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Ageing conference 'a stunning success'

Age Concern New Zealand Media Release
9 October 2009

Ageing conference 'a stunning success'

The Age Concern New Zealand and New Zealand Association of Gerontology conference concluded today to the sound of waiata and agreement among delegates of the event’s unique value.

“The conference has been a stunning success. Age Concern New Zealand is delighted to have co-hosted such a great event with such potential to improve older people’s lives thorough research and action,” Age Concern New Zealand national president Liz Baxendine says. 

“It was a rare opportunity for practitioners to meet together with policy makers and researchers to get the best for older people.”

Over 400 Conference delegates participated in Living in an Ageing Society - Shaping Tomorrow Today, the joint Age Concern New Zealand and New Zealand Association of Gerontology conference in Wellington this week.

“Whenever two organizations combine, there’s always a risk," says Liz Baxendine, “but the risk has definitely paid off.”

“It’s a great achievement for our two volunteer-based organisations to have successfully completed such a major conference on ageing.”

The papers rejected gloomy views of increased senior populations. “Ageing is a triumph” Professor Alan Walker of Sheffield University reminded delegates. “Never before in human history have so many people entered later life so healthy.”

Age Concern New Zealand professional adviser Louise Rees was awarded Third Best Paper for her analysis of the successful Accredited Visiting Service programme that links socially isolated older people with compatible volunteer visitors.

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“I congratulate Louise Rees on her work,” Liz Baxendine says. "She made a powerful case for continuing and extending the visiting programme across the country and making it again available to resthome residents.”

“Loneliness has real health impacts.  Lonely people have a higher proportion of illness and depression.  Our Accredited Visiting Service is an inexpensive volunteer-based programme that can make a big difference.”

Three researchers including Ms Rees spoke to a packed audience about the problems faced by lonely older people.  One survey found more than half of seniors say they experience loneliness.  Other research shows that increasing international migration has led to a new generation of seniors facing loneliness as all their children live overseas.

The Conference concludes an intense fortnight of activities about and for older people including the International Day of Older Persons, announcement of the inaugural Patron’s Award for the Media, and the first Age Concern Awareness Week.


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