Category Archives: Seniors’ Health

Celebrities combine forces and voices to support people impacted by dementia, plus National Dementia Helpline now 24/7

Dementia Action Week takes place from 19 – 25 September 2022 in Australia.

Celebrity supporters, Ambassadors, Patron Ita Buttrose AC OBE and a person living with dementia have combined forces and lent their voices to an audiobook version of Dementia Australia’s Dementia Guide.

The Dementia Guide is the go-to online resource for any person impacted by any form of dementia, of any age, in any location across Australia,” Ms Buttrose said.

“Speaking for the voices team, I know we have all been thrilled to contribute to The Dementia Guide Audiobook to increase the accessibility to vital information about dementia and the support available.

“Each person who has shared their voice has had an experience of dementia in their family and we have done this to raise awareness and help others to know they are not alone and that there is support available.”

Dementia Australia Ambassadors and voices Natarsha Belling, Stephanie Bendixsen, Takaya Honda, Mark Seymour, Denis Walter OAM, Pat Welsh and celebrity supporters Rhonda Burchmore OAM and Geraldine Hickey wholeheartedly echo Ita’s words and have enthusiastically backed the project.

Not just for people living with dementia, The Dementia Guide is also for friends, families and carers, and talks to the impact dementia may have on a person, the treatment, support and services they may need, and how loved ones can provide support.

Stephanie Bendixsen, video game critic and television presenter, said she added her voice to the audiobook as she sees the value in a more accessible resource for families, such as hers, who need to navigate life with dementia.

“My mother passed away from Alzheimer’s disease in 2018, and we really knew so little about dementia when she was diagnosed,” Ms Bendixsen said.

“This made it difficult to understand why certain things were happening with her behaviourally, and we struggled to understand what was truly going on inside her brain, how her physicality was affected and how best we could support her and my Dad, her main carer, as a family.
“Resources like this are so very valuable, and their accessibility even more so. Even though I consider myself a big reader – finding the time to sit down and read a book can be tricky when you have a busy lifestyle. I switched to audiobooks years ago so that I can absorb books while I’m driving, walking the dog, doing chores – it’s been life-changing. An easily accessible resource like this would have made a wonderful difference to me and my family when we were coming to terms with how Mum’s – and our lives – would change.”

The audiobook includes a welcome from Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe AM and a chapter recorded by Ann Pietsch, who is a Dementia Advocate and lives with dementia.

“I was invited to read one of the chapters and I personally think that The Dementia Guide is a valuable resource, making it available as an audio book is a great idea as it will now be easily available to more people living with dementia, carers, and families and the wider public,” Mrs Pietsch said.

This media release has been provided by media release issued on 17 August 2022.

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New report reveals staggering future $442 billion cost of Alzheimer’s disease

The University of Canberra’s National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM) has revealed the staggering future economic cost of Alzheimer’s disease, and its impact on Australia’s workforce, patients, families and communities.1

The report, The Economic and Societal Cost of Alzheimer’s Disease in Australia, 2021-2041, commissioned by Biogen Australia and New Zealand, builds on NATSEM and Dementia Australia’s Economic Cost of Dementia in Australia 2016-2056 Report released in 2017 and projects a 20-year $442 billion impact of Alzheimer’s disease to the Australian economy.1

Lead author Emeritus Professor Laurie Brown from NATSEM said the number of people aged 50 and over with diagnosed Alzheimer’s disease is expected to increase by 73% from 153,888 in 2021 to 266,114 by 2041. This increase will lead to an annual cost of $26.6 billion, including direct costs (aged care, hospital and out of hospital services) of $9.8 billion and indirect costs (informal care, lost productivity, and income support) of $16.8 billion by 2041.1

“The modelling paints a significant challenge to government, health and aged care systems into the future,” said Professor Brown. “The numbers also provide insight into the ripple effect on families and the community as they struggle to care for people living with the disease.”

Under current care, the number of people in Residential Aged Care Facilities with dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease is expected to increase by more than 72 per cent over the next 20 years, with the numbers increasing from 42,478 persons in 2021 to 73,172 in 2041.1

“This is a huge challenge for an aged care system already under pressure. It will see financial impacts of formal residential and community aged care rising by almost $3.6 billion annually and requiring a paid workforce of 18,652 in 2041 to support those living with Alzheimer’s disease in the community alone, up from 10,752 in 2021,” said Professor Brown.

Associate Professor Michael Woodward AM, geriatrician and Head of Aged Care Research, Austin Health said importantly the report also provides an opportunity to quantify the societal costs outside the health system.

“The impact I see on carers and the community each day is often the most challenging to quantify. However, with an expected additional 80,000+ people with Alzheimer’s disease in the community by 2041 compared with today we can’t afford not to consider this impact in any future approach,” Associate Professor Woodward said.

The report also investigated the potential impact of a disease modifying therapy on the numbers.1 Disease-modifying therapies target the pathogenic pathway of Alzheimer’s disease to delay the onset or progression of dementia.2 The modelling indicates there is an opportunity to reduce the burden on aged care over the 20 years by $7.9 billion, the cost of residential care by $7.0 billion and formal care in the community by $880 million. With fewer people having moderate or severe AD dementia, the cost of informal care is also reduced by $4.3 billion – giving a total savings of $12.2 billion.1

“While the modelling suggests that the introduction of a disease modifying therapy has the potential to lessen the future impact of Alzheimer’s disease, it is only part of the solution,” said Associate Professor Woodward.

“The findings in this report attest to the importance of developing and implementing a system and society-wide approach, in alignment with the anticipated national dementia strategy to ensure we can provide the best possible clinical outcomes and quality of life in the future. We do not have time to delay,” Associate Professor Woodward continued.

This data reinforces the findings from the recent White Paper on the Future of Alzheimer’s disease in Australia that revealed the need for urgent collaboration and action in the healthcare system to manage the growing impact of the disease.

Article and image provided by SenateSHJ on behalf of the University of Canberra and Biogen Australia and New Zealand.

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1. Brown LJ., Li J. and La HA (2022). The Economic and Societal Cost of Alzheimer’s Disease in Australia, 2021-2041. NATSEM, University of Canberra, Canberra.

2. Cummings, J & Fox, N (2017). Defining Disease Modifying Therapy For Alzheimer’s Disease. J Prev Alz Dis. 4(2):109-115.

Ageism is a global challenge: UN

18 March 2021, Geneva, Switzerland via AFTNN — Every second person in the world is believed to hold ageist attitudes – leading to poorer physical and mental health and reduced quality of life for older persons, costing societies billions of dollars each year, according to a new United Nations report on ageism.

The report released today by WHO, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), calls for urgent action to combat ageism and better measurement and reporting to expose ageism for what it is – an insidious scourge on society.

The response to control the COVID-19 pandemic has unveiled just how widespread ageism is – older and younger people have been stereotyped in public discourse and on social media. In some contexts, age has been used as the sole criterion for access to medical care, lifesaving therapies and for physical isolation.

“As countries seek to recover and rebuild from the pandemic, we cannot let age-based stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination limit opportunities to secure the health, well-being and dignity of people everywhere,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “This report outlines the nature and scale of the problem but also offers solutions in the form of evidence-based interventions to end ageism at all stages.”

Findings from the report

Ageism seeps into many institutions and sectors of society including those providing health and social care, in the workplace, media and the legal system. Healthcare rationing based solely on age is widespread.  A systematic review in 2020 showed that in 85 per cent of 149 studies, age determined who received certain medical procedures or treatments.

Both older and younger adults are often disadvantaged in the workplace and access to specialised training and education decline significantly with age. Ageism against younger people manifests across many areas such as employment, health, housing and politics where younger people’s voices are often denied or dismissed. 

“Ageism towards younger and older people is prevalent, unrecognised, unchallenged and has far-reaching consequences for our economies and societies,” said Maria-Francesca Spatolisano, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs. “Together, we can prevent this. Join the movement and combat ageism.” 

Ageism has serious and wide-ranging consequences for people’s health and well-being. Among older people, ageism is associated with poorer physical and mental health, increased social isolation and loneliness, greater financial insecurity, decreased quality of life and premature death. An estimated 6.3 million cases of depression globally are estimated to be attributable to ageism.  It intersects and exacerbates other forms of bias and disadvantage including those related to sex, race and disability leading to a negative impact on people’s health and well-being.

“The pandemic has put into stark relief the vulnerabilities of older people, especially those most marginalised, who often face overlapping discrimination and barriers – because they are poor, live with disabilities, are women living alone, or belong to minority groups,” said Natalia Kanem, Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund. “Let’s make this crisis a turning point in the way we see, treat and respond to older people, so that together we can build the world of health, well-being and dignity for all ages that we all want.”

Ageism costs our societies billions of dollars. In the United States of America (USA), a 2020 study showed ageism in the form of negative age stereotypes and self-perceptions led to excess annual costs of US$63 billion for the eight most expensive health conditions. This amounts to US$1 in every US$7 spent on these conditions for all Americans over the age of 60 for one year.

Estimates in Australia suggest that if 5 per cent more people aged 55 or older were employed, there would be a positive impact of AUD$48 billion on the national economy annually. There are currently limited data and information on the economic costs of ageism and more research is needed to better understand its economic impact, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.

We don’t have control over other people’s thoughts. What we can do is to control and shape our own thoughts and behaviour.
Buakhiaw, 84, Thailand © Paiboon Yeelar / FOPDEV / HelpAge International

“Ageism harms everyone – old and young. But often, it is so widespread and accepted – in our attitudes and in policies, laws and institutions – that we do not even recognise its detrimental effect on our dignity and rights said Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. “We need to fight ageism head-on, as a deep-rooted human rights violation.”

Combatting ageism

The report notes that policies and laws that address ageism, educational activities that enhance empathy and dispel misconceptions, and intergenerational activities that reduce prejudice all help decrease ageism.

All countries and stakeholders are encouraged to use evidence-based strategies, improve data collection and research and work together to build a movement to change how we think, feel and act towards age and ageing, and to advance progress on the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing.


The World Health Organization (WHO) provides global leadership in public health within the United Nations system. Founded in 1948, WHO works with 194 Member States, across six regions and from more than 150 offices, to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable. Our goal for 2019-2023 is to ensure that a billion more people have universal health coverage, to protect a billion more people from health emergencies, and provide a further billion people with better health and wellbeing. For more information about WHO, visit Follow WHO on Twitter and Facebook.

The Office of the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights is the leading UN entity on human rights. We represent the world’s commitment to the promotion and protection of the full range of human rights and freedoms set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. To fulfil its mission, UN Human Rights follows a robust framework of results known as the OHCHR Management Plan (OMP). This roadmap is based on the outcomes of consultations with Member States, the UN system, civil society, the donor community and the private sector.

United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), rooted in the United Nations Charter and guided by the transformative 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, upholds the development pillar of the United Nations. UN DESA brings the global community together to work towards common solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. The Department helps countries translate their global commitments into national action in the economic, social and environmental spheres. It is a leading analytical voice for promoting inclusion, reducing inequalities and eradicating poverty, and a champion for tearing down the barriers that keep people in poverty.

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency. Our mission is to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled. UNFPA calls for the realization of reproductive rights for all and supports access to a wide range of sexual and reproductive health services – including voluntary family planning, maternal health care and comprehensive sexuality education.


Tim is a successful jazz musician from Alberta, Canada and for twenty years, he was immersed in music; from performing with bands, singing at events and in front of prime ministers and royalty and writing this book, How to Ikigai: Lessons for Finding Happiness and Living Your Life’s Purpose.

My cousin Angeline gifted me with a best seller by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles titled, Ikigai The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life. Not so secret anymore, it seems, this ideology that originated from Okinawa, Japan. Or not…

Photo credit: Louis Low

The authors interviewed residents of the Japanese village with the highest percentage of 100-year-olds—one of the world’s Blue Zones in Okinawa. How did they eat, how did they move, how they worked, how they fostered collaboration and community, and—their best-kept secret—how did they find the ikigai that brings satisfaction to their lives?

1. Stay active and don’t retire

2. Leave urgency behind and adopt a slower pace of life

3. Only eat until you are 80 per cent full

4. Surround yourself with good friends

5. Get in shape through daily, gentle exercise

6. Smile and acknowledge people around you

7. Reconnect with nature

8. Give thanks to anything that brightens our day and makes us feel alive.

9. Live in the moment

10. Follow your ikigai

So I decided to do a quick check on what others thought of the concept, especially Japanese people (including foreigners who live in Japan).

What is ikigai?

Melbournian editor in Japan, Lucy Dayman wrote about the origin of ikigai in online magazine Savvy Tokyo. Here’s what she wrote:

The origin of the word ikigai goes back to the Heian period (794 to 1185). Clinical psychologist and avid expert of the ikigai evolution, Akihiro Hasegawa released a research paper in 2001 where he wrote that the word “gai” comes from the word “kai” which translates to “shell” in Japanese.

During the Heian period, shells were extremely valuable, so the association of value is still inherently seen in this word. It can also be seen in similar Japanese words like hatarakigai, (働きがい) which means the value of work, or yarigai ~ga aru (やり甲斐がある), meaning “it’s worth doing it.”

Ikigai Tribe podcast

I also found Ikigai Tribe – a podcast by Ikigai coach Nick Kemp. His ikigai, is about what ikigai truly means to the Japanese and how you can find it to make your own life worth living. This first episode features Professor Akihiro Hasegawa of Toyo Eiwa University, one of Japan’s leading researchers and experts on ikigai. Together, they discuss the meaning and origin of the word “ikigai”, his research, the Mother of Ikigai Psychology, Mieko Kamiya, and more.

One of the takeaways from the podcast, was his study in dementia patients. Patients with strong sense of Ikigai, deferred dementia.

A diagram depicted in Garcia and Miralles’ book about the meaning of Ikigai went viral very quickly but it turns out many Japanese people disagreed and didn’t think it was a good representation of the concept. It was a gentrified version, simplified and wrongly inserted a line, “that you can be paid for”, which was something of err to the original ideology. Google Ikigai diagram images and you will see so many versions plagiarised from one to another, but based on the wrong interpretation – a peril of good information that’s wrongly interpreted but gone viral. I found Kyle Kowalski’s SLOWW movement and he described the origin of the diagram in detail, the Ikigai concept.

So what is really the true meaning of Ikigai and how can one achieve it?

“Only staying active will make you want to live a hundred years.”

Japanese proverb
Penguin’s promotional video

In the podcast interview, Hasegawa Sensei shared that Ikigai was a way of life and not so much something you’d do which you can be paid for.

  • Health
  • Intellectual Activeness
  • Social Roles in Communities
  • Family Structure (especially in rural areas)

These were the core areas of Ikigai, as described by Hasegawa Sensei.

Peggy Oki

Peggy Oki talks about flow and motion and it’s clear her ikigai is sharing tales about the ‘Cetacean Nation’. A Surfer, Skateboarder, Artist and Activist, Peggy founded the Origami Whales Project in 2004 to raise awareness about commercial whaling. She has also developed the Whales and Dolphins Ambassador Program and led campaigns such as ‘Let’s Face It’, which petitions to save New Zealand’s critically endangered Maui’s dolphins and Hector’s dolphins.

Follow your heart with vision and actions,

Create your own folds and you will connect with your purpose in life.

Peggy Oki

Thought I’d end this ikigai piece with a real life example like Peggy’s story. I’m sure we’ll each find our way, whichever way that works for us but one thing is true – it’s about having a deep sense of purpose.

You’ll never walk alone

Captain Tom Moore

Capt. Tom was in hospital for skin cancer treatment, and recently for a hip operation and wanted to thank the NHS, whom he calls the heroes of today for the care and treatment for COVID-19 patients. He started with the aim to walk 100 x 25m lengths of the back garden before reaching 100 years old on 30th April and assisted by his daughter, setup a crowdfunding initiative to raise money for the NHS. The Just Giving fundraiser was setup initially to raise a target of £500,000 but by 14 April 2020, the page had collected £1m! It supports the NHS staff and volunteers caring for Covid-19 patients run by Association of NHS Charities.

Tom Moore was a civil engineer who enlisted in the British army and by 1940 made Officer, then rose to the ranks of Captain with 8 DWR. He served with 9DWR in India, then served and fought on the Arakan in then Burma (now known as the Rakhine State), went to Regiment to Sumatra (Indonesia) after the Japanese surrender and returned to be Instructor at Armoured Fighting Vehicle School in Bovington, the British Army military base in Dorset, England.

By 16th April, Captain Tom completed his final 100th lap and this was featured by the BBC and ITV, seen across various worldwide news outlets. Capt. Tom’s daughter Hannah Ingram-Moore in The Sun said, “He is your stoic Yorkshire man. And having broke his hip 18 months ago he knows full well that if he didn’t keep walking he would stop walking altogether.

English actor, singer and broadcaster who made his West End debut in 1985 playing Marius Pontmercy in the original London production of Les Misérables, and went on to star in 1987 as Raoul in The Phantom of the Opera, Michael Ball OBE has never met Capt. Tom due to the COVID-19 isolation but he receives recorded versions of the 1945 show tune by Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical cover song from Capt. Tom’s daughter, and the NHS Voices of Care Choir and releases “You’ll Never Walk Alone”.

100% of Captain Tom, Michael Ball and Decca Records’ proceeds from the single will be donated to Captain Tom Moore’s 100th Birthday Walk in aid of NHS Charities which supports the incredible NHS staff and volunteers caring for COVID-19 patients (Charity Registration No. 1186569). Download the track here:…

In The Guardian, Capt. Tom Moore welcomed the “wonderful news” and shared this message:

My grandchildren can’t believe I am a chart-topper!

We’re in this together, and I am for ever grateful for your support. And this just proves: you’ll never walk alone.

Capt. Tom Moore

Capt. Tom is going to continue to walk, raise money for our NHS heroes, and spread some cheer around the world. Share this and spread some cheer while we #stayathome and health workers and medical frontliners fight COVID-19.

Stay safe #youllneverwalkalone #move8