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Hot Health | Focus on Wellness and Ageing

Networking from 5:00pm with nibbles and drinks


The Dunedin Dementia Risk Awareness Project: Pilot Study in Older Adults

Associate Professor Yoram Barak | Consultant Psychogeriatrician, Department of Psychological Medicine

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Recent recommendations from the USA and UK governmental and academic agencies suggest that up to 35% of dementia cases are preventable. As a pilot study contributing to the design of a probability survey, we canvassed degree of dementia awareness among local older adults.
The modified Lifestyle for Brain Health (LIBRA) scale quantifying dementia risk and protective factors was introduced to a sample of 401 participants. Two hundred and sixteen older adults completed the present survey.
Social isolation was the most commonly cited risk for dementia while physical exercise was most commonly cited as a protective factor. Only 4/14 modifiable risk or protective factors for dementia were adequately identified by the participants: Physical Exercise, Depression, Brain Exercises and Social Isolation. Three clusters of brain health literacy were identified: psychosocial, medical and mechanical. The majority of participants felt they were at risk of suffering from dementia, that this will change their lives significantly, that lifestyle changes will help reduce their risk, that they can make the necessary changes and wish to start these changes soon.
Older adults are not adequately knowledgeable about dementia risk and protective factors. However, they are reporting optimism in their ability to modify risks through lifestyle interventions.

Research team: A/Prof Yoram Barak, Mr Andrew Gray, Dr Charlene Rapsey, and Prof Kate Scott

Unlonely Centenarians: Findings from a nationwide assessment in New Zealand

Dr Sharon Leitch | Senior Research Fellow, Department of General Practice and Rural Health and 

Philippa Greco | Southern District Health Board

Loneliness is associated with reduced health-related quality of life and increased morbidity and mortality, and typically worsens with aging. No previous study has examined loneliness in New Zealand centenarians.
The objective of this study was to describe and compare centenarians (100+ years) with the elderly (65-99 years), in terms of the clinical and psychosocial variables associated with loneliness. The study undertook a retrospective observational cross-sectional review of previously collected data (international Residential Assessment Instrument (interRAI-HC) assessments) in multicentre assessments throughout New Zealand. The interRAI-HC is an electronically recorded assessment that encompasses all aspects of an older person’s life including physical, psychological and cognitive domains. Nine main items from the interRAI-HC data set were analysed: age, gender, ethnicity, marital status, living arrangements, family support, depression, locomotion and loneliness.
The assessments of 191 centenarians and 73,095 elderly were analysed. Compared to the elderly, centenarians were more likely to be female, widowed, and free from depression. Centenarians are unlonely compared to the elderly, especially women. Impaired locomotion was a risk factor for loneliness amongst centenarians, while lack of depression was a protective factor against loneliness.
Centenarians are a unique group to study as a model of successful ageing. Our sample of centenarians were less lonely than other groups studied internationally. We found depression and locomotion were additional variables that affected centenarians’ risk of loneliness. Knowing these variables may help us address risk factors for loneliness in the elderly.

Research team: Sharon Leitch, Prof Paul Glue, Philippa Greco and A/Prof Yoram Barak.

Sarcopenic and Obese: The skinny-fat of ageing

Associate Professor Debra Waters | Director of Gerontology Research, Department of Medicine

In this talk, Debra will provide an overview of body composition and functional change as we age and introduce the concepts of sarcopenia and sarcopenic-obesity. Weight and body mass index (BMI) are commonly used clinical measures but they can be highly inaccurate in older adults who may have normal BMI and weight that masks significant deleterious changes in body composition. Poor physical function and frailty are associated with this “skinny-fat” body composition and increase the risk of frailty in later life. However, well-designed RCTs have shown that life-style interventions of diet and exercise are effective in reserving the functional decrements associated with sarcopenic-obesity in older persons. Debra will present the results from recent trials and the current thinking around how to prevent and treat sarcopenic-obesity in our aging population.

Watch via Zoom | Facebook live | Periscope

Hot Health is 2018's addition to DSM's family of events, with the intention of bringing the School together for an informal evening of networking and discussion, with the opportunity to hear from a variety of speakers give talks on hot topics.

All University staff, students and alumni are warmly encouraged to attend these events. The general public is also very welcome.

Date Thursday, 5 July 2018
Time 5:30pm - 6:30pm
Audience All University,Public
Event Category Health Sciences
Event Type Departmental Seminar
LocationBarnett Lecture Theatre, 1st Floor Dunedin Hospital

Contact NameGeorgia Richardson



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