Wednesday, March 30, 2011

In 20 years time 1-4 New Zealanders will be over 85

That is the estimation. So just how are these people going to be accommodated?

Social isolation is going to be a much bigger problem in 20 years time if it is not addressed not. People who cannot get out and mix with people through illness, disability or depression are causing concern now so just imagine what it will be like in 2031!

Nutrition is also a major problem. How are people going to be nutritionally balanced? This is what helps their survival, motivation and ward off disease and illness.

Anyone who has lived on their own will know there is not quite so much joy in cooking for yourself as there is in sharing a meal with another person.

Many older people are under nourished not so much from lack of food, though it is a contributer, it is the lack of company. Dr Carol Wham from Massey University has just completed a study on the effects of nutrition on the elderly. It was conducted on 1000 people living at home. It was discovered that sharing a meal has a bigger impact on whether a person eats there meal or not.

Meals on Wheels does a great job, but it is empty if you have no one to share it with. What people enjoy most is the visit from the person who delivers the meal.

Not everyone gets involved in the community or in organisations. While when you are young and busy this is not a problem but when you live on your own, the skills to mix with people have not been developed. This leads to a person being more at risk of social isolation and are more likely to suffer from depression and disease and undernutrtion is also a contributer.

This is why when people enter a residential facility their depression abates, their weight increases and their nutritional status improves. Don't have to be a rocket scientist to understand this.

In 1987 when home care was first introduced with the aim of keeping people at home and out of the then Stage 1 rest homes, I predicted that the biggest disease we will see is social isolation. It has come true.

Social isolation costs the health care system far more than residential care does. The number of people who have repeated public hospital stays, increased homecare to keep them at home costs much more than residential care.

While I agree people have the right to stay home with support if they choose. I do not believe that ALL of the people who are receiving home care are there by choice. They are encouraged to stay home, even if they do not want to and know they need to have people around them. It is considered fiscally beneficial to keep them at home.

Wrong. It cost more when you take into consideration of all the different services that are involved in keeping them at home -home care, meals on wheels, public hospital care.

I am going to be one of the 1-4 over 85 in 20 years time. While I pray that I will remain active and able and have family around who are willing to support me, I am also prepared for the fact that I may need some help or residential care.

This means I have 20 years to ensure the caregivers who are going to help me live at home or in residential care know how to care for me as an individual and understand any medical conditions I have. Hence my mission to get on-line training throughout the country so consistent individualized care is the norm and everyone gets the care they want and what they deserve.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Positive emotions - what makes some people more resilient than others?

I have long held the belief that how we think and feel has a huge effect on our health and wellness. In fact in my first book I wrote about the significant effect I beleive emotions have on people with dementia.

When dementia strikes, as they progress through the disease process where the mind is not longer in control, they are finally free to express what they are feeling, who they want to be with and what they want to say. They shoot straight from the hip which creates a lot of problems with carers who take what they say literally rather than seeing how it is for the person. I found it easy to work with people with dementia because I understood them and I didnt take offence at anything they said.

Understanding your emotions is hugely important and it is estimated that 80% of people have difficulties in this area. The 20% of people who freely express who they are as a person are those who are more successful in all areas of their life and have much less sickness and disease.

Now this can be learnt.

I was listening to Radio New Zealand interview with Barbara Fredrickson, a researher into understanding happiness who has developed a test for you to see where you fit on the happiness scale. This gives you guide to the areas you can change in your life.

She suggestes you do this test everyday in the evening for a period of 2 weeks to see how your day went and ratio of happiness you have in your life. To do this test go to .

Also note that this test will probably not return the same results each day so do it honestly and it will give you a guide on how or what to change in your life. Most people in the US who take this test have a ratio of 2-1, depressed people have ratio of 1-1 but the successful people consistently have a ratio of 3-1.

Her website is a very intersting read and also see where you fit on the happiness ratio scale.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Why do people still have a negative attitude to residential care

I was out at lunch yesterday with a group of family and friends when I got talking about OnlineTraining I am currently developing. Out came all the negative things we hear from the media like:

No 1: Well they don't get paid enough so of course the care is going to be substandard.
My reply "It is not about money. While I agree caregivers are underpaid. Paying them more will not necessarily improve the care. It is a myth. Training is what improves and uplifts care and higher pay should be linked to training."

No2: It is terrible the way people get treated. The cases reported in the media are horrendous.
My reply: Yes they are but have you heard about the wonderful things that do happen in long term care every day. Like the staff who come in on their off duty time to help get a person ready to go out, or attend a picnic or outing to help make up the numbers or the caregivers who have been doing this work for 20 years or more and just love it and won't do anything else.

The public are too quick to criticise the industry without the facts. Yes there are some bad caregivers but there are bad employees in every job. I myself have seen far more committed, caring, sensitive, loving caregivers in my 38 years of working in aged care than I have seen uncommitted, uncaring, insensitive and unloving caregivers.

We must never loose our good sense of prespective.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Have you looked at your Gratitude Journal Lately?

It doesnt do us any harm in the world of Me Me Me, to go through a crisis from time to time to make us realise just how lucky we are.

It is so easy to focus more on what we don't have but when the chips are down we really get a lesson on how lucky we are and what is really important. What am i talking about?

Last week I became unwell and ended up spending a couple of days in bed and another in Emergency Dept for tests. It is at these times one feels most grateful. So today I am going to tell you what I am grateful for in my life.

I am grateful for my wonderful children. My daughter stayed in Emergency Department for 11 hours with me. She was constantly in contact with my sons all through the day - one local and one in UK. They even kept their father up to date (we have been divorced for 24 years)

I am grateful for my sisters who were in constant contact with my daughter so see how I was and when I came home they called.

I am grateful for my friends who kept in contact with me and who did the work that needed to be done.

And you know at the end of the day, this is all what we need. To be loved and cared for. How powerful is that.

So what are you grateful for today? It never does any harm to reflect on the truly wonderful things in your life and how much they mean to you. take a moment to reflect. It may be the best investment in your time you spend today.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


I really feel for older people (not that I am a spring chicken myself) getting used to settling into to new environments, trying to make sense of this ever changing world where every thing happens so quickly and the young say "It's so cool" or "It's so easy". So what am I rabbiting on about,

Well my computer was so slow I spent untold time waiting for it to chug along (and it is only 4 years old) so I got myself a new one. Yes a modern, up to the minute laptop with all the bells and whistles - Window 2010. Designed to make life easier and quicker. Yeah Right.

Admitted I have only been working on it a few hours but I reckon I have wasted more time on this today than if I had done a full days work on my old one. My trusty old friend and companion is sitting beside me beckoning me "Use me please" but I am resisting. I am just plugging along with the new one waiting for it to do all the things it's suppose to do the way I want it to.

My daughter, who is so patient with me, just does everything so easily and quickly. Oh I am so grateful to have her around to help me. I would be completely lost by now and crying into my pillow or threatening to throw it out the window.

Yes it is much harder for us older people to keep up with this newer and faster technology. I can understand those who don't want to know anything about it. However on a final note, I wouldn't be without my computer. Would you? How did we manage without them?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The stories keep coming

Now that the dust has settled, so to speak, and Christchurch people are picking up their fragmented lives the rest of the world goes on. It is hard once the initial tragedy occured for people to go about their everyday lives just as before.

However now life it starting to get back to some normality the post-mortums begin. This is the normal path of grief.

I feel for everyone who has suffered a loss. I personally don't know anyone who has suffered tragically in the earthquake but I am sure I would too come up with some regrets. It is very difficult to be philosophical at this time.

So lets send some love to everyone and wish them comfort and solice that they can find some peace within to see them through this time. The rest of us do feel for you. We can't forget you, not that we would want to, as you come to us each day, several times a day through the media.

I know they get some criticism but it is pleasing to know that NZ journalists showed humility, more so than our cousins across the ditch and from other countries according to a Radio New Zealand Spot on the media yesterday. It appears how they get the story doesnt matter.

This is what makes New Zealand and their people so great. It is what has made us so sought after in other countries. It is our humanness, our humility. Yes we are a very humble race and may we remain so.