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We have too few aged care workers to care for older Australians. Why? And what can we do about it?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/hal-swerissen-9722">Hal Swerissen</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/la-trobe-university-842">La Trobe University</a></em></p> <p>In a country like Australia, we all expect that when we get old, we’ll be able to rely on a robust aged care system. But aged care providers can’t find staff and a crisis is brewing.</p> <p>If the problem isn’t fixed, there are serious risks to quality and access to services for older people who need support. There are also broader social, economic and political consequences for undervaluing the rapidly expanding health and social assistance workforce.</p> <p>Aged care <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/2021/10/2020-aged-care-workforce-census.pdf">employs</a> around 420,000 people. Around 80% of those are front line staff providing care and demand for them is increasing rapidly.</p> <h2>Australians are ageing</h2> <p>The number of people aged 80 and over is <a href="https://treasury.gov.au/sites/default/files/2019-03/IGR_2010_Overview.pdf">projected to double</a> by 2050. At the same time, informal family care is becoming less available. In the next 25 years, <a href="https://www.australianageingagenda.com.au/executive/shortfall-of-400000-aged-care-workers-predicted-by-2050/">twice as many</a> aged care staff will be needed.</p> <p>Currently, about 1.4 million older people <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/older-people/older-australians/contents/aged-care">receive</a> aged care services, including basic and more intensive home care and residential care.</p> <p>Health care and social support job vacancies and ads are the highest of any industry. Between 30,000 and 35,000 additional direct aged care workers a year are already needed. By 2030 the <a href="https://cedakenticomedia.blob.core.windows.net/cedamediacontainer/kentico/media/attachments/ceda-duty-of-care-3.pdf">shortfall</a> is likely to be 110,000 full time equivalent workers.</p> <h2>Why don’t enough people want to work in aged care?</h2> <p>Despite recent <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/topics/aged-care-workforce/what-were-doing/better-and-fairer-wages">pay increases</a>, it is difficult to attract and retain aged care workers because the work is under-valued.</p> <p>The Australian workforce is undergoing profound change. A generation ago, manufacturing made up 17% of the workforce. Today it has fallen to 6%. By contrast, the health care and social assistance workforce has doubled from 8% to 16%.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/607090/original/file-20240716-17-hup1e8.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/607090/original/file-20240716-17-hup1e8.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/607090/original/file-20240716-17-hup1e8.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=337&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/607090/original/file-20240716-17-hup1e8.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=337&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/607090/original/file-20240716-17-hup1e8.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=337&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/607090/original/file-20240716-17-hup1e8.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=423&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/607090/original/file-20240716-17-hup1e8.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=423&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/607090/original/file-20240716-17-hup1e8.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=423&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="" /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">The manufacturing workforce has declined, while health, aged care and social assistance has risen.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">ABS 6291.0.55.001 Labour Force, Australia.</span></span></figcaption></figure> <p>Manufacturing jobs were <a href="https://australiainstitute.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Manufacturing-Briefing-Paper-FINAL.pdf">mainly</a> secure, full-time, reasonably paid jobs dominated by male workers.</p> <p>By contrast, jobs in aged care are often insecure, part-time and poorly paid, dominated by women, with many workers coming from non-English speaking backgrounds.</p> <p>Since moving to take over aged care in the 1980s, the federal government has over-emphasised <a href="https://arena.org.au/a-genealogy-of-aged-care/">cost constraint</a> through service privatisation, activity-based funding and competition, often under the cover of consumer choice.</p> <p>The result is a highly fragmented and poorly coordinated aged care sector with almost 3,200, often small and under-resourced providers centrally funded and regulated from Canberra.</p> <p>This has <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/sites/default/files/a-matter-of-care-australia-s-aged-care-workforce-strategy.pdf">led to</a> high levels of casualisation, low investment in training and professional development, and inadequate supervision, particularly in the home care sector.</p> <p>Aged care is facing a perfect storm. Demand for care and support staff is increasing dramatically. The sector is poorly coordinated and difficult to navigate. Pay and conditions remain poor and the workforce is relatively untrained. There are no minimum standards or registration requirements for many front-line aged care staff.</p> <h2>What are the consequences?</h2> <p>An understaffed and under-trained aged care workforce reduces access to services and the quality of care and support.</p> <p>Aged care providers <a href="https://www.agedhealth.com.au/content/compliance-and-governance/news/troubled-outlook-for-aged-care-reforms-1224428737#:%7E:text=Its%20report%20found%20that%2053.8,was%20%22impossible%20to%20achieve%22.">routinely report</a> it is difficult to attract staff and they can’t meet the growing demand for services from older people.</p> <p>Staff shortages are already having an impact on residential care occupancy rates falling, with some regional areas now down to only 50% occupancy.</p> <p>That means older people either don’t get care or they are at increased risk of neglect, malnutrition, avoidable hospital admissions and a poorer quality of life.</p> <p>Inevitably, lack of aged care workers puts pressure on hospital services when older people have nowhere else to go.</p> <h2>What needs to be done?</h2> <p>Addressing these challenges requires a multifaceted approach. Australia will need a massive increase in the number of aged care workers and the quality of the care they provide. Wages have to be competitive to attract and retain staff.</p> <p>But better pay and conditions is only part of the story. Unless aged care becomes a career the community recognises, values and supports, it will continue to be difficult to train, attract and retain staff.</p> <p>The recent <a href="https://www.royalcommission.gov.au/aged-care">Royal Commission on Aged Care Quality and Safety</a> highlighted the need for a more skilled workforce, emphasising the importance of ongoing professional development for all staff.</p> <p>To date the federal government’s aged care workforce initiatives have been underwhelming. They are a limited and piecemeal rather than a coherent workforce strategy.</p> <p>In the short term, skilled migration may be part of the solution. But progress to bring in skilled aged care workers has been glacial. Currently only about 1% of providers <a href="https://theconversation.com/overseas-recruitment-wont-solve-australias-aged-care-worker-crisis-189126">have agreements</a> to bring in staff from overseas. At best, overseas migration will meet only 10% of the workforce shortfall.</p> <p>Registration, qualifications and training for direct care work have to become mandatory to make sure care standards are met.</p> <p>Much more significant and systematic incentives and support for training will be needed. Supervision, career progression and staff development will also have to be dramatically improved if we are to attract and retain the workforce that is needed.</p> <p>“Learn and earn” incentives, including scholarships and traineeships for aged care, are needed to attract the future workforce.</p> <p>At the same time, a much broader investment in upskilling the entire workforce through continuing professional development and good quality supervision is necessary.</p> <p>Like manufacturing a generation ago, aged care needs to become valued, skilled, secure and well-paid employment if it is going to attract the staff that are needed to avoid a looming crisis.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/232707/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/hal-swerissen-9722">Hal Swerissen</a>, Emeritus Professor of Public Health, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/la-trobe-university-842">La Trobe University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/we-have-too-few-aged-care-workers-to-care-for-older-australians-why-and-what-can-we-do-about-it-232707">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Caring

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‘I keep away from people’ – combined vision and hearing loss is isolating more and more older Australians

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/moira-dunsmore-295190">Moira Dunsmore</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/annmaree-watharow-1540942">Annmaree Watharow</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emily-kecman-429210">Emily Kecman</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p>Our <a href="https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/ageing-and-health">ageing population</a> brings a growing crisis: people over 65 are at greater risk of dual sensory impairment (also known as “deafblindness” or combined vision and hearing loss).</p> <p>Some 66% of people over 60 have hearing loss and 33% of older Australians have low vision. Estimates suggest more than a quarter of Australians over 80 are <a href="https://www.senseswa.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/a-clear-view---senses-australia.pdf">living with dual sensory impairment</a>.</p> <p>Combined vision and hearing loss <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/0264619613490519">describes</a> any degree of sight and hearing loss, so neither sense can compensate for the other. Dual sensory impairment can occur at any point in life but is <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.annepidem.2012.02.004">increasingly common</a> as people get older.</p> <p>The experience can make older people feel isolated and unable to participate in important conversations, including about their health.</p> <h2>Causes and conditions</h2> <p>Conditions related to hearing and vision impairment often <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-we-lose-our-hearing-and-vision-as-we-age-67930">increase as we age</a> – but many of these changes are subtle.</p> <p>Hearing loss can start <a href="https://www.who.int/teams/noncommunicable-diseases/sensory-functions-disability-and-rehabilitation/highlighting-priorities-for-ear-and-hearing-care">as early as our 50s</a> and often accompany other age-related visual changes, such as <a href="https://www.mdfoundation.com.au/">age-related macular degeneration</a>.</p> <p>Other age-related conditions are frequently prioritised by patients, doctors or carers, such as <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports-data/health-conditions-disability-deaths/chronic-disease/overview">diabetes or heart disease</a>. Vision and hearing changes can be easy to overlook or accept as a normal aspect of ageing. As an older person we interviewed for our <a href="https://hdl.handle.net/2123/29262">research</a> told us</p> <blockquote> <p>I don’t see too good or hear too well. It’s just part of old age.</p> </blockquote> <h2>An invisible disability</h2> <p>Dual sensory impairment has a significant and negative impact in all aspects of a person’s life. It reduces access to information, mobility and orientation, impacts <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/09638280210129162">social activities and communication</a>, making it difficult for older adults to manage.</p> <p>It is underdiagnosed, underrecognised and sometimes misattributed (for example, to <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/geronb/gbz043">cognitive impairment or decline</a>). However, there is also growing evidence of links between <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/dad2.12054">dementia and dual sensory loss</a>. If left untreated or without appropriate support, dual sensory impairment diminishes the capacity of older people to live independently, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/dad2.12054">feel happy and be safe</a>.</p> <p>A dearth of specific resources to educate and support older Australians with their dual sensory impairment means when older people do raise the issue, their GP or health professional may not understand its significance or where to refer them. One older person told us:</p> <blockquote> <p>There’s another thing too about the GP, the sort of mentality ‘well what do you expect? You’re 95.’ Hearing and vision loss in old age is not seen as a disability, it’s seen as something else.</p> </blockquote> <h2>Isolated yet more dependent on others</h2> <p>Global trends show a worrying conundrum. Older people with dual sensory impairment become <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/dad2.12054">more socially isolated</a>, which impacts their mental health and wellbeing. At the same time they can become increasingly dependent on other people to help them navigate and manage day-to-day activities with limited sight and hearing.</p> <p>One aspect of this is how effectively they can <a href="https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.25522">comprehend and communicate in a health-care setting</a>. Recent research shows <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/healthcare12080852">doctors and nurses in hospitals</a> aren’t making themselves understood to most of their patients with dual sensory impairment. Good communication in the health context is about more than just “knowing what is going on”, <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2227-9032/12/8/852">researchers note</a>. It facilitates:</p> <ul> <li>shorter hospital stays</li> <li>fewer re-admissions</li> <li>reduced emergency room visits</li> <li>better treatment adherence and medical follow up</li> <li>less unnecessary diagnostic testing</li> <li>improved health-care outcomes.</li> </ul> <h2>‘Too hard’</h2> <p>Globally, there is a better understanding of how important it is to <a href="https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789240030749">maintain active social lives</a> as people age. But this is difficult for older adults with dual sensory loss. One person told us</p> <blockquote> <p>I don’t particularly want to mix with people. Too hard, because they can’t understand. I can no longer now walk into that room, see nothing, find my seat and not recognise [or hear] people.</p> </blockquote> <p>Again, these experiences increase reliance on family. But caring in this context is tough and largely <a href="https://doi.org/10.3389/feduc.2020.572201">hidden</a>. Family members describe being the “eyes and ears” for their loved one. It’s a 24/7 role which can bring <a href="https://doi.org/10.1159/000507856">frustration, social isolation and depression</a> for carers too. One spouse told us:</p> <blockquote> <p>He doesn’t talk anymore much, because he doesn’t know whether [people are] talking to him, unless they use his name, he’s unaware they’re speaking to him, so he might ignore people and so on. And in the end, I noticed people weren’t even bothering him to talk, so now I refuse to go. Because I don’t think it’s fair.</p> </blockquote> <p>So, what can we do?</p> <p>Dual sensory impairment is a growing problem with potentially devastating impacts.</p> <p>It should be considered a unique and distinct disability in all relevant protections and policies. This includes the right to dedicated diagnosis and support, accessibility provisions and specialised skill development for health and social professionals and carers.</p> <p>We need to develop resources to help people with dual sensory impairment and their families and carers understand the condition, what it means and how everyone can be supported. This could include communication adaptation, such as social haptics (communicating using touch) and specialised support for older adults to <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09649069.2019.1627088">navigate health care</a>.</p> <p>Increasing awareness and understanding of dual sensory impairment will also help those impacted with everyday engagement with the world around them – rather than the isolation many feel now.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/232142/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/moira-dunsmore-295190">Moira Dunsmore</a>, Senior Lecturer, Sydney Nursing School, Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Sydney, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/annmaree-watharow-1540942">Annmaree Watharow</a>, Lived Experience Research Fellow, Centre for Disability Research and Policy, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emily-kecman-429210">Emily Kecman</a>, Postdoctoral research fellow, Department of Linguistics, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/i-keep-away-from-people-combined-vision-and-hearing-loss-is-isolating-more-and-more-older-australians-232142">original article</a>.</em></p>

Body

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Millions of older people don’t get enough nutrients – how to spot it and what to do about it

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/miriam-clegg-997096">Miriam Clegg</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-college-cork-1321">University College Cork</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rachel-smith-1505111">Rachel Smith</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-reading-902">University of Reading</a></em></p> <p>By 2050, approximately a quarter of the UK population is <a href="https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigration/populationestimates/articles/overviewoftheukpopulation/january2021">expected to be over the age of 65</a>. With this in mind, the World Health Organization (WHO) has put “<a href="https://cdn.who.int/media/docs/default-source/decade-of-healthy-ageing/decade-proposal-final-apr2020-en.pdf?sfvrsn=b4b75ebc_28">healthy ageing</a>” on its agenda. This means finding ways to maintain health, wellbeing and functional ability in order to have a good quality of life and enjoy the later years.</p> <p>Everyone ages at a different rate – but there are some things that can influence how well we age, such as by making changes to the types of activity we do and the foods we eat.</p> <p>Older adults are <a href="https://www.ageuk.org.uk/globalassets/age-uk/documents/reports-and-publications/research-report-2019--one-step-at-a-time.pdf">generally less physically active</a> than they were when they were younger and because of this, their energy intake requirement may decrease. However, there is a difference between energy requirements and nutrient requirements, and nutrient requirements actually remain the same, if not increase, as we get older.</p> <p>This means we need to get more nutrients into less energy which can be tricky as <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4589891/#:%7E:text=The%20physiological%20changes%20that%20occur,can%20contribute%20to%20declining%20appetite.">older adults often have lower appetites</a>. This is why <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6971894/">scientists suggest</a> that it may be necessary to enrich the food of older people to maintain the nutrient intake.</p> <h2>How to spot when someone isn’t eating enough?</h2> <p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8399049/">Several studies have shown</a> that undernutrition affects one in ten older people living independently at home. However, it affects five in ten older people living in nursing homes, and seven in ten older people in hospital.</p> <p>Being overweight, even obese, <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40520-023-02650-1">does not protect</a> against undernutrition. And when older adults lose weight, they lose muscle, meaning that they are more likely to lose their <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnut.2022.892675/full?&amp;utm_source=Email_to_authors_&amp;utm_medium=Email&amp;utm_content=T1_11.5e1_author&amp;utm_campaign=Email_publication&amp;field=&amp;journalName=Frontiers_in_Nutrition&amp;id=892675">abilities to do daily tasks</a>.</p> <p>Weight loss in older adults is a key sign of malnutrition that needs to be addressed – but it can be easily missed, especially when many older adults associate the idea of thinness <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0195666319307603?casa_token=iU5UIdNwGDgAAAAA:I81EKDJ2T0oBsOsZunpPBk6uI-TcgiCr-5gPJE1tz4-Tq3w8pK4Yi_mv22AhVHHpRpiv1Bvz0RI">with good health</a>. But clothing that’s too loose or a watchstrap that floats on the wrist are all warning signs of undernourishment.</p> <p>Similarly, if someone you care for has started to say things like, “Oh, I don’t want much food today, I’m not hungry”, “I’m not hungry, it’s natural, I’m getting older”, or “I’d rather just have a biscuit to be honest,” then these could be warning signs. An effective way to keep on top of this is regular weighing at least once per month which enables a quick response to potential indicators of malnutrition.</p> <h2>Getting more nutrients into less food</h2> <p>If people are eating small amounts of food, it is important to think about how to add more nutrients into it. A very effective technique, “fortification” is commonly done with pre-made products such as breakfast cereals, plant-based milk and bread in the UK.</p> <p>Fortification (adding foods, ingredients or nutrients into to existing foods or meals) is easy to do at home as well and can provide a flexible approach for older adults as it allows them to continue eating the foods that they most enjoy.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/kNu8auu3fuU?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>For older adults in particular, protein is a very important nutrient, because of muscle loss (<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4066461/#:%7E:text=Sarcopenia%20has%20been%20defined%20as,decade%20of%20life%20%5B1%5D.">sarcopenia)</a> which is a natural part of ageing. This could be slowed down or even reversed by <a href="https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/could-a-higher-protein-intake-lead-to-healthier-eating">eating enough protein</a> at regular intervals throughout the day. A few ways to increase protein include:</p> <p>• Adding dairy ingredients such as milk, high-protein yoghurt, Quark (soft cheese), milk powders, eggs and cheese into meals – even into simple foods like mashed potato.</p> <p>• Nuts are a great source of protein, try adding ground almonds to savoury or sweet meals (beware of nut allergies).</p> <p>• Soy protein can be a convenient and cost-effective option, either for vegetarians or to further fortify minced-meat meals.</p> <p>• Look in the sports section of supermarkets to find <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/whey-powder#:%7E:text=Whey%20powders%20are%20characterized%20as,of%20products%20obtained%20from%20milk.">whey protein</a> powders. These are marketed to gym enthusiasts, but actually whey is one of the <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/15/15/3424">best proteins to stimulate muscle growth</a>. This versatile ingredient can be mixed into porridge before cooking or used it as a substitute for other powdered ingredients in baking.</p> <h2>Importance of physical activity and strength exercises</h2> <p>Physical activity and nutrition go hand-in-hand – both are equally important. As we age, being physically active becomes <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12603-021-1665-8?fbclid=IwAR3dJkeHjgcSrR9Xq5kBfN-HLrbpli8WcAnz7AeY5Nu9XcGCHEB07Sd2z1w">even more essential</a> as it helps to prevent disease, maintains independence, decreases risk of falls, improves cognitive function, mental health and sleep.</p> <p>Exercise can also <a href="https://academic.oup.com/ageing/article/48/4/476/5423796?login=false">combat isolation and loneliness</a> which has also been <a href="https://www.bda.uk.com/resource/loneliness-and-malnutrition.html">linked to decreased appetite</a> in older adults. Often strength training gets ignored when we think of being active but to keep independence and prevent falls, older adults should do varied physical activity that emphasises balance and strength training at moderate or greater intensity on three or more days a week.</p> <p>Ultimately, it’s essential to contact a doctor or dietician with any worries or concerns about malnutrition or unintentional weight loss. There are, however, <a href="https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/ageing-well-nutrition-and-exercise-for-older-adults">some excellent resources</a> to learn more about ageing healthily and maintaining a good quality of life in later years.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/221380/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/miriam-clegg-997096">Miriam Clegg</a>, Senior Lecturer in Human Nutrition, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-college-cork-1321">University College Cork</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rachel-smith-1505111">Rachel Smith</a>, Sensory and Consumer Scientist, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-reading-902">University of Reading</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/millions-of-older-people-dont-get-enough-nutrients-how-to-spot-it-and-what-to-do-about-it-221380">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Technology is alienating people – and it’s not just those who are older

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/carolyn-wilson-nash-1255329">Carolyn Wilson-Nash</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-stirling-1697">University of Stirling</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/julie-tinson-277507">Julie Tinson</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-stirling-1697">University of Stirling</a></em></p> <p>We take it for granted that technology brings people closer together and improves our access to essential products and services. If you can’t imagine life without your smartphone, it’s easy to forget that people who can’t or don’t want to engage with the latest technology are being left behind.</p> <p>For example, there have recently been reports that <a href="https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/cars/1618497/parking-poll-results-cashless-car-parks-card-smartphone-app-only-elderly-drivers-spt">cashless payment systems</a> for car parking in the UK are seeing older drivers unfairly hit with fines. This has led to calls for the <a href="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10851103/Esther-Rantzen-tells-ministers-pensioners-not-use-apps-pay-parking.html">government to intervene</a>.</p> <p>Age is one of the biggest predictors of <a href="https://ageing-better.org.uk/sites/default/files/2020-08/landscape-covid-19-digital.pdf">digital exclusion</a>. Only 47% of those aged <a href="https://www.ons.gov.uk/businessindustryandtrade/itandinternetindustry/bulletins/internetusers/2019">75 and over</a> use the internet regularly. And out of the 4 million who have never used the internet in the UK, only 300,000 people are <a href="https://ageing-better.org.uk/sites/default/files/2020-08/landscape-covid-19-digital.pdf">under 55</a>.</p> <p>But older people are not the only ones who feel shut out by new technology. For example, research shows vulnerable people, such as those with disabilities, are also disengaging with e-services and being <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/0267257X.2012.691526">“locked out” of society</a>.</p> <h2>The digital transition</h2> <p>From train tickets to vaccine passports, there is a growing expectation that consumers should embrace technology to participate in everyday life. This is a global phenomenon. Out in front, Sweden predicts its economy will be <a href="https://sweden.se/life/society/a-cashless-society">fully cashless</a> by March 2023.</p> <p>Shops increasingly use QR codes, virtual reality window displays and self-service checkouts. Many of these systems require a smart device, and momentum is building for QR codes to be integrated into <a href="https://www.thegrocer.co.uk/technology-and-supply-chain/the-time-has-finally-arrived-for-electronic-shelf-labels-heres-why/661068.article">digital price tags</a> as they can give customers extra information such as nutritional content of food. Changing paper labels is a labour intensive process.</p> <p>Technology pervades all aspects of consumer life. Going on holiday, enjoying the cinema or theatre, and joining sport and social clubs all make people feel part of society. But many popular artists now use online queues to sell tickets to their shows. Social groups use WhatsApp and Facebook to keep their members updated.</p> <p>When it comes to booking a holiday, there is a <a href="https://www.statista.com/statistics/919811/number-of-travel-agents-united-kingdom-uk/#:%7E:text=Overall%2C%20there%20were%203%2C710%20retail,as%20TUI%20and%20Hays%20Travel.">decreasing number</a> of in-person travel agents. This limits the social support to make the best choice, which is particularly important for those with specific needs such as people with health issues. And once travelling, aircrew expect flight boarding passes and COVID passports to be available on smartphones.</p> <p>Essential services such as healthcare, which can already <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/0267257X.2022.2078861">be difficult</a> for older and other people to navigate, are also moving online. Patients are increasingly expected to use the GP website or email to request to see a doctor. Ordering prescriptions online is encouraged.</p> <h2>Not just older people</h2> <p><a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/digital-lifeline-a-qualitative-evaluation/digital-lifeline-a-qualitative-evaluation">Not everyone can afford</a> an internet connection or smart technology. Some regions, particularly rural ones, struggle for phone signal. The UK phone network’s plans for a <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-shropshire-61377944">digital switchover</a> by 2025, which would render traditional landlines redundant, could cut off people who rely on their landlines.</p> <p>Concerns about privacy can also stop people using technology. Data collection and security breaches impact people’s confidence in organisations. A 2020 survey into <a href="https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/risk-and-resilience/our-insights/the-consumer-data-opportunity-and-the-privacy-imperative">consumers’ trust</a> in businesses showed no industry reached a trust rating of 50% for data protection. The majority of respondents (87%) said they would not do business with a company if they had concerns about its security practices.</p> <p>Some people view “forced” digitisation as a symbol of consumer culture and will limit their technology use. Followers of the <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228310981_The_Voluntary_Simplicity_Movement_Reimagining_the_Good_Life_Beyond_Consumer_Culture">simple living movement</a>, which gained momentum in the 1980s, try to minimise their use of technology. Many people take a “less is more” <a href="https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/JCM-04-2020-3749/full/html">approach to technology</a> simply because they feel it offers a more meaningful existence.</p> <p>One of the most common reasons for digital exclusion, however, <a href="https://www.iriss.org.uk/resources/esss-outlines/digital-inclusion-exclusion-and-participation">is poverty</a>. When the <a href="https://www.local.gov.uk/parliament/briefings-and-responses/tackling-digital-divide-house-commons-4-november-2021">pandemic hit in March 2020</a>, 51% of households earning between £6,000 to £10,000 had home internet access, compared with 99% of households with an income over £40,000.</p> <p>Limited access to tablets, smartphones and laptops can result in feelings of isolation. Many older consumers have developed strategies to manage and overcome the <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/0267257X.2021.1945662">digital challenges</a> presented by these devices. But those unable to <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-older-people-are-mastering-technology-to-stay-connected-after-lockdown-165562">engage with technology</a> remain excluded if their family and friends don’t live close by.</p> <h2>Smart change</h2> <p>The solution is not simply to give devices to those without smart technology. While there is a need to provide affordable internet access and technology, and offer support in learning new skills, we need to recognise diversity in society.</p> <p>Services should provide non-digital options that embrace equality. For example, cash systems should not be abolished. There might be a demand for services to become digital, but service providers need to be aware of the people who will be isolated by this transition.</p> <p>Retailers, local councils, health providers and businesses in tourism, entertainment and leisure should try to understand more about the diversity of their consumers. They need to develop services that cater for the needs of all people, especially those without access to technology.</p> <p>We live in a diverse world and diverse consumers need choice. After all, access to and inclusion in society is a human right.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/184095/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/carolyn-wilson-nash-1255329">Carolyn Wilson-Nash</a>, Lecturer, Marketing and Retail, Stirling Management School, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-stirling-1697">University of Stirling</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/julie-tinson-277507">Julie Tinson</a>, Professor of Marketing, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-stirling-1697">University of Stirling</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/technology-is-alienating-people-and-its-not-just-those-who-are-older-184095">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Yes, adults can develop food allergies. Here are 4 types you need to know about

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/clare-collins-7316">Clare Collins</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-newcastle-1060">University of Newcastle</a></em></p> <p>If you didn’t have food allergies as a child, is it possible to develop them as an adult? The short answer is yes. But the reasons why are much more complicated.</p> <p>Preschoolers are about <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25316115/">four times more likely to have a food allergy</a> than adults and are more likely to grow out of it as they get older.</p> <p>It’s hard to get accurate figures on adult food allergy prevalence. The Australian National Allergy Council reports <a href="https://nationalallergycouncil.org.au/about-us/our-strategy">one in 50 adults</a> have food allergies. But a US survey suggested as many as <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30646188/">one in ten adults</a> were allergic to at least one food, with some developing allergies in adulthood.</p> <h2>What is a food allergy</h2> <p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36509408/">Food allergies</a> are immune reactions involving <a href="https://www.aaaai.org/tools-for-the-public/allergy,-asthma-immunology-glossary/immunoglobulin-e-(ige)-defined">immunoglobulin E (IgE)</a> – an antibody that’s central to triggering allergic responses. These are known as “IgE-mediated food allergies”.</p> <p>Food allergy symptoms that are <em>not</em> mediated by IgE are usually delayed reactions and called <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25316115/">food intolerances or hypersensitivity</a>.</p> <p>Food allergy symptoms can include hives, swelling, difficulty swallowing, vomiting, throat or chest tightening, trouble breathing, chest pain, rapid heart rate, dizziness, low blood pressure or <a href="https://www.allergy.org.au/hp/papers/acute-management-of-anaphylaxis-guidelines?highlight=WyJhbmFwaHlsYXhpcyJd">anaphylaxis</a>.</p> <p>IgE-mediated food allergies can be life threatening, so all adults need an <a href="https://allergyfacts.org.au/allergy-management/newly-diagnosed/action-plan-essentials">action management plan</a> developed in consultation with their medical team.</p> <p>Here are four IgE-mediated food allergies that can occur in adults – from relatively common ones to rare allergies you’ve probably never heard of.</p> <h2>1. Single food allergies</h2> <p>The most <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30646188/">common IgE-mediated food allergies</a> in adults in a US survey were to:</p> <ul> <li>shellfish (2.9%)</li> <li>cow’s milk (1.9%)</li> <li>peanut (1.8%)</li> <li>tree nuts (1.2%)</li> <li>fin fish (0.9%) like barramundi, snapper, salmon, cod and perch.</li> </ul> <p>In these adults, about 45% reported reacting to multiple foods.</p> <p>This compares to <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25316115/">most common childhood food allergies</a>: cow’s milk, egg, peanut and soy.</p> <p>Overall, adult food allergy prevalence appears to be increasing. Compared to <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14657884/">older surveys published in 2003</a> and <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15241360/">2004</a>, peanut allergy prevalence has increased about three-fold (from 0.6%), while tree nuts and fin fish roughly doubled (from 0.5% each), with shellfish similar (2.5%).</p> <p>While new <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38214821/">adult-onset food allergies are increasing</a>, childhood-onset food allergies are also more likely to be retained into adulthood. Possible reasons for both <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38214821/">include</a> low vitamin D status, lack of immune system challenges due to being overly “clean”, heightened sensitisation due to allergen avoidance, and more frequent antibiotic use.</p> <h2>2. Tick-meat allergy</h2> <p>Tick-meat allergy, also called α-Gal syndrome or mammalian meat allergy, is an allergic reaction to galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose, or α-Gal for short.</p> <p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33529984/">Australian immunologists first reported</a> links between α-Gal syndrome and tick bites in 2009, with cases also reported in the United States, Japan, Europe and South Africa. The <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38318181/">US Centers for Disease Control estimates</a> about 450,000 Americans <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/72/wr/mm7230a2.htm">could be affected</a>.</p> <p>The α-Gal contains a carbohydrate molecule that is bound to a <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38318181/">protein</a> molecule in <a href="https://alphagalinformation.org/what-is-a-mammal/">mammals</a>.</p> <p>The IgE-mediated allergy is triggered after repeated bites from ticks or <a href="https://www.insectshield.com/pages/chiggers">chigger mites</a> that have bitten those mammals. When tick saliva crosses into your body through the bite, antibodies to α-Gal are produced.</p> <p>When you subsequently eat foods that contain α-Gal, the allergy is triggered. These triggering foods include meat (lamb, beef, pork, rabbit, kangaroo), dairy products (yoghurt, cheese, ice-cream, cream), <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gelatin">animal-origin gelatin</a> added to gummy foods (jelly, lollies, marshmallow), prescription medications and over-the counter supplements containing gelatin (<a href="https://www.drugs.com/inactive/gelatin-57.html">some antibiotics, vitamins and other supplements</a>).</p> <p>Tick-meat allergy reactions can be hard to recognise because they’re usually delayed, and they can be severe and include anaphylaxis. Allergy <a href="https://www.allergy.org.au/patients/food-allergy/mammalian-meat-tick-faq">organisations produce management guidelines</a>, so always discuss management with your doctor.</p> <h2>3. Fruit-pollen allergy</h2> <p>Fruit-pollen allergy, called pollen food allergy syndrome, is an <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38002141/">IgE-mediated allergic reaction</a>.</p> <p>In susceptible adults, pollen in the air provokes the production of IgE antibodies to antigens in the pollen, but these antigens are similar to ones found in some fruits, vegetables and herbs. The problem is that <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38002141/">eating those plants</a> triggers an allergic reaction.</p> <p>The <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38002141/">most allergenic tree pollens</a> are from birch, cypress, Japanese cedar, <a href="https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/latex-allergy">latex</a>, grass, and ragweed. Their pollen can cross-react with <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38002141/">fruit and vegetables</a>, including kiwi, banana, mango, avocado, grapes, celery, carrot and potato, and some herbs such as caraway, coriander, fennel, pepper and paprika.</p> <p>Fruit-pollen allergy is not common. Prevalence <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38002141/">estimates are between 0.03% and 8%</a> depending on the country, but it can be life-threatening. Reactions range from itching or tingling of lips, mouth, tongue and throat, called <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20306812/">oral allergy syndrome</a>, to mild <a href="https://www.allergy.org.au/patients/skin-allergy/urticaria-hives">hives</a>, to anaphylaxis.</p> <h2>4. Food-dependent, exercise-induced food allergy</h2> <p>During heavy exercise, the stomach produces less acid than usual and gut permeability increases, meaning that small molecules in your gut are more likely to escape across the membrane into your blood. These include food molecules that trigger an IgE reaction.</p> <p>If the person already has IgE antibodies to the foods eaten before exercise, then the risk of triggering food allergy reactions is increased. This allergy is called <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37893663/">food-dependent exercise-induced allergy</a>, with symptoms ranging from hives and swelling, to difficulty breathing and anaphylaxis.</p> <p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30601082/">Common trigger foods include</a> wheat, seafood, meat, poultry, egg, milk, nuts, grapes, celery and other foods, which could have been eaten many hours before exercising.</p> <p>To complicate things even further, allergic <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33181008/">reactions can</a> occur at lower levels of trigger-food exposure, and be more severe if the person is simultaneously taking non-steroidal inflammatory medications like aspirin, drinking alcohol or is sleep-deprived.</p> <p>Food-dependent exercise-induced allergy is extremely rare. Surveys have estimated prevalence as between <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1555415517300259">one to 17 cases per 1,000 people worldwide</a> with the highest prevalence between the teenage years to age 35. Those affected often have other allergic conditions such as hay fever, asthma, allergic conjunctivitis and dermatitis.</p> <h2>Allergies are a growing burden</h2> <p>The <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36509408/">burden on physical health, psychological health</a> and health costs due to food allergy is increasing. In the US, this <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38393624/">financial burden was estimated as $24 billion per year</a>.</p> <p>Adult food allergy needs to be taken seriously and those with severe symptoms should wear a medical information bracelet or chain and carry an <a href="https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/how-to-use-an-adrenaline-autoinjector-epipen-anapen">adrenaline auto-injector pen</a>. Concerningly, surveys suggest only <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30646188/">about one in four adults</a> with food allergy have an adrenaline pen.</p> <p>If you have an IgE-mediated food allergy, discuss your management plan with your doctor. You can also find more information at <a href="https://allergyfacts.org.au/">Allergy and Anaphylaxis Australia</a>.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/223342/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/clare-collins-7316"><em>Clare Collins</em></a><em>, Laureate Professor in Nutrition and Dietetics, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-newcastle-1060">University of Newcastle</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/yes-adults-can-develop-food-allergies-here-are-4-types-you-need-to-know-about-223342">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Are young people smarter than older adults? My research shows cognitive differences between generations are diminishing

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/stephen-badham-1531316">Stephen Badham</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/nottingham-trent-university-1338">Nottingham Trent University</a></em></p> <p>We often assume young people are smarter, or at least quicker, than older people. For example, we’ve all heard that scientists, and even more so mathematicians, <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2014/08/07/who-says-scientists-peak-by-age-50/">carry out their most important work</a> when they’re comparatively young.</p> <p>But my new research, <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S027322972400008X#:%7E:text=Highlights&amp;text=Three%20review%20studies%20measure%20secular,%2C%20education%2C%20and%20overall%20health.">published in Developmental Review</a>, suggests that cognitive differences between the old and young are tapering off over time. This is hugely important as stereotypes about the intelligence of people in their sixties or older may be holding them back – in the workplace and beyond.</p> <p>Cognitive ageing is often measured by comparing young adults, aged 18-30, to older adults, aged 65 and over. There are a variety of tasks that older adults do not perform well on compared to young adults, such as memory, spatial ability and speed of processing, which often form the basis of <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-iq-test-wars-why-screening-for-intelligence-is-still-so-controversial-81428">IQ tests</a>. That said, there are a few tasks that older people do better at than younger people, such as reading comprehension and vocabulary.</p> <p>Declines in cognition are driven by a process called <a href="https://www.nature.com/collections/cbjacdabdf">cognitive ageing</a>, which happens to everyone. Surprisingly, age-related cognitive deficits start very early in adulthood, and declines in cognition have been measured as dropping in adults as young as just 25.</p> <p>Often, it is only when people reach older age that these effects add up to a noticeable amount. Common complaints consist of walking into a room and forgetting why you entered, as well as difficulty remembering names and struggling to drive in the dark.</p> <h2>The trouble with comparison</h2> <p>Sometimes, comparing young adults to older adults can be misleading though. The two generations were brought up in different times, with different levels of education, healthcare and nutrition. They also lead different daily lives, with some older people having lived though a world war while the youngest generation is growing up with the internet.</p> <p>Most of these factors favour the younger generation, and this can explain a proportion of their advantage in cognitive tasks.</p> <p>Indeed, much existing research shows that <a href="https://theconversation.com/iq-tests-are-humans-getting-smarter-158837">IQ has been improving</a> globally throughout the 20th century. This means that later-born generations are more cognitively able than those born earlier. This is even found when both generations are tested in the same way at the same age.</p> <p>Currently, there is growing evidence that <a href="https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.1718793115">increases in IQ are levelling off,</a> such that, in the most recent couple of decades, young adults are no more cognitively able than young adults born shortly beforehand.</p> <p>Together, these factors may underlie the current result, namely that cognitive differences between young and older adults are diminishing over time.</p> <h2>New results</h2> <p>My research began when my team started getting strange results in our lab. We found that often the age differences we were getting between young and older adults was smaller or absent, compared to prior research from early 2000s.</p> <p>This prompted me to start looking at trends in age differences across the psychological literature in this area. I uncovered a variety of data that compared young and older adults from the 1960s up to the current day. I plotted this data against year of publication, and found that age deficits have been getting smaller over the last six decades.</p> <p>Next, I assessed if the average increases in cognitive ability over time seen across all individuals was a result that also applied to older adults specifically. Many large databases exist where groups of individuals are recruited every few years to take part in the same tests. I analysed studies using these data sets to look at older adults.</p> <p>I found that, just like younger people, older adults were indeed becoming more cognitively able with each cohort. But if differences are disappearing, does that mean younger people’s improvements in cognitive ability have slowed down or that older people’s have increased?</p> <p>I analysed data from my own laboratory that I had gathered over a seven-year period to find out. Here, I was able to dissociate the performance of the young from the performance of the older. I found that each cohort of young adults was performing to a similar extent across this seven-year period, but that older adults were showing improvements in both processing speed and vocabulary scores.</p> <figure class="align-center "><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/591482/original/file-20240501-24-esxcic.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/591482/original/file-20240501-24-esxcic.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=333&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/591482/original/file-20240501-24-esxcic.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=333&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/591482/original/file-20240501-24-esxcic.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=333&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/591482/original/file-20240501-24-esxcic.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=418&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/591482/original/file-20240501-24-esxcic.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=418&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/591482/original/file-20240501-24-esxcic.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=418&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="The figure shows data for a speed-based task where higher scores represent better performance." /><figcaption><span class="caption">The figure shows data for a speed-based task where higher scores represent better performance.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="license" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/">CC BY-SA</a></span></figcaption></figure> <p>I believe the older adults of today are benefiting from many of the factors previously most applicable to young adults. For example, the number of children who went to school <a href="https://education-uk.org/history/chapter12.html">increased significantly</a> in the 1960s – with the system being more similar to what it is today than what it was at the start of the 20th century.</p> <p>This is being reflected in that cohort’s increased scores today, now they are older adults. At the same time, young adults have hit a ceiling and are no longer improving as much with each cohort.</p> <p>It is not entirely clear why the young generations have stopped improving so much. Some research has <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.intell.2016.10.002">explored maternal age, mental health and even evolutionary trends</a>. I favour the opinion that there is just a natural ceiling – a limit to how much factors such as education, nutrition and health can improve cognitive performance.</p> <p>These data have important implications for research into dementia. For example, it is possible that a modern older adult in the early stages of dementia might pass a dementia test that was designed 20 or 30 years ago for the general population at that time.</p> <p>Therefore, as older adults are performing better in general than previous generations, it may be necessary to revise definitions of dementia that depend on an individuals’ expected level of ability.</p> <p>Ultimately, we need to rethink what it means to become older. And there’s finally some good news. Ultimately, we can expect to be more cognitively able than our grandparents were when we reach their age.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/229132/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/stephen-badham-1531316">Stephen Badham</a>, Professor of Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/nottingham-trent-university-1338">Nottingham Trent University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/are-young-people-smarter-than-older-adults-my-research-shows-cognitive-differences-between-generations-are-diminishing-229132">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Mind

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Why are adults without kids hooked on Bluey? And should we still be calling it a ‘kids’ show’?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jessica-balanzategui-814024">Jessica Balanzategui</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/rmit-university-1063">RMIT University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/djoymi-baker-1269345">Djoymi Baker</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/rmit-university-1063">RMIT University</a></em></p> <p>“Bluey mania” shows no sign of abating. Bluey’s season finale, The Sign, was the <a href="https://tvtonight.com.au/2024/04/the-sign-breaks-abc-iview-records.html">most viewed ABC program</a> of all time on iView.</p> <p>A “hidden” follow-up episode, aptly named The Surprise, created a storm of <a href="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-13338251/Bluey-fans-wild-mystery-ending-surprise-episode-meaning.html">headlines</a> around the world, many of which <a href="https://mashable.com/article/bluey-surprise-baby-who-is-the-father">have a decidedly adult tone</a>.</p> <p>As highlighted in social media fan communities <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/arts-entertainment/2023/02/08/bluey-adult-fandom-tiktok/">and</a> <a href="https://gizmodo.com/bluey-disney-plus-bbc-australian-animation-adult-fans-1850426890">articles</a>, the show has struck a chord with adults, many of whom aren’t parents. What do they get from a show that is ostensibly “for kids”?</p> <h2>Parents love Bluey (sometimes more than kids)</h2> <p>Our <a href="https://www.infrastructure.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/pfpp--australian-children%27s-television-cultures-actc.pdf">research</a> with <a href="https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=&amp;cad=rja&amp;uact=8&amp;ved=2ahUKEwiDjeXNluuFAxW2bmwGHf2aDvoQFnoECA8QAQ&amp;url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.aph.gov.au%2FDocumentStore.ashx%3Fid%3Dec6900b5-42b0-4c3d-b200-5c05ae895fec%26subId%3D751969&amp;usg=AOvVaw2BpyYjP_6i62kXdJqyrplx&amp;cshid=1714522763110954&amp;opi=89978449">children aged 7-9</a> and their parents provides evidence of how enraptured adults are by Bluey. Our findings also suggest it’s the parents who often drive household Bluey obsessions.</p> <p>As one mum told us: "If we could tell the Australian TV gods something that we’d like to have on Australian TV, it would be more Bluey, don’t get rid of Bluey. […] Bluey is loved by mums a lot."</p> <p>Another explained how the show provided learning for parents: "It’s the gentle parenting, kindness, empathy for the children, the humour […] And helping kids [and] families work through real life situations with kindness and compassion."</p> <p>When one eight-year-old and his mum told us about their favourite shows, the following exchange took place:</p> <blockquote> <p><strong>Mum:</strong>: What about Bluey? <br /><strong>Son</strong>: I sometimes [watch it]… <br /><strong>Mum</strong>: You don’t want to say. He doesn’t want to say he watches Bluey. Bluey’s fantastic. <br /><strong>Son</strong>: I sometimes- <br /><strong>Mum</strong>: He wants to be a big boy. […] Everyone in this room probably loves Bluey. It’s not just for kids. <br /><strong>Son</strong>: Enough about that.</p> </blockquote> <p>Beyond families, Bluey has also attracted teen and adult fans without kids – in part thanks to a <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/arts-entertainment/2023/02/08/bluey-adult-fandom-tiktok/">vibrant TikTok community</a> (aka <a href="https://www.tiktok.com/search?lang=en&amp;q=blueytok&amp;t=1714526488575">#blueytok</a>). While some commentary suggests this adult fandom <a href="https://slate.com/culture/2024/04/bluey-the-sign-episode-ending-parents-adults-kids-disney-plus.html">is “weird”</a>, Bluey is only the latest in a long line of “children’s” shows with a passionate adult fanbase.</p> <h2>Shifting barriers in television</h2> <p>The distinction between “children’s” and “adult” television has long been crucial to our cultural understandings of what separates a child from an adult.</p> <p>In the 1950s, <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1749602020911359">academics were concerned</a> children were watching TV content that was too mature for them, turning them into “adultised children”, and that adults watching kids’ shows were becoming “infantile adults”.</p> <p>The industry took note. In 1957, a reduction in children’s TV production in the United States made space for so-called “kidult” shows designed for both age groups.</p> <p>Since then, the boundaries between children’s and adult television have continually shifted. In television’s early days, science fiction was associated with child audiences (which is why many initially assumed Star Trek was <a href="https://www.bloomsbury.com/au/to-boldly-go-9781838609733/">a kids’ show</a>).</p> <p>These boundaries were also influenced by television scheduling. Warner Bros’ early animation shorts were initially all-ages theatrical releases, but in 1960 were packaged into the Bugs Bunny Show – pitched for kids and aired on Saturday mornings. As a result, by 1967 animation was considered <a href="https://web.mit.edu/sp.778/www/Documents/From_Saturday_morning_to_---elevision_cartoons.pdf">kids’ fare</a>.</p> <p>The boundaries shifted again in the 1980s as adult Japanese anime such as Akira (1988) became popular in the West.</p> <p>In 1989, The Simpsons debuted on TV. Our research reveals even today there is confusion regarding the show’s suitability for young children. Some of our seven-to-nine-year-old participants described secretly watching it without their parents’ knowledge.</p> <h2>Childhood healing</h2> <p>Bluey’s adult appeal is credited to the show’s playful <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/paultassi/2024/04/14/disneys-giant-new-bluey-episode-the-sign-is-making-parents-cry/?sh=3c4a664f6234">yet emotionally complex</a> content. One reason adults tune into today’s kids’ TV is because it’s far more diverse than the shows they could access growing up.</p> <p>Take 19-year-old Bluey fan <a href="https://www.wired.com/story/bluey-internet-fandom/">Darby Rose</a>, who points to an episode in which a Jack Russell terrier has ADHD. “As a neurodivergent person myself, this representation makes me ecstatic,” Rose says. This is also true of many teen programs, with the queer-friendly high-school romance Heartstopper attracting a large <a href="https://time.com/6301556/heartstopper-netflix-season-2-fans/">adult following</a>.</p> <p>It’s not just <a href="https://theconversation.com/beyond-bluey-why-adults-love-re-watching-australian-kids-tv-from-their-childhoods-169727">childhood nostalgia</a> that drives adults to kids’ shows (although <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/bluey/comments/x1xgf9/what_trips_down_memory_lane_and_nostalgia_does/">this is one aspect</a>). Watching kids’ shows can be self-affirming for adults who missed out on seeing their identity onscreen growing up. Some adult fans <a href="https://www.huffpost.com/entry/bluey-adults_n_65e774c1e4b0f9d26cac99a7">even say</a> Bluey has helped them heal childhood wounds.</p> <h2>Children’s television meets adult fan cultures</h2> <p>Watching “adult” television enables kids to feel more grown-up. Conversely, adults can watch children’s television to embrace aspects of their personality they feel social pressure to repress.</p> <p>The latter is often the case for “Bronies” (a portmanteau for “bro” and “pony”): adult male fans of the animated kids’ show My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (2010-20). The community has attracted much <a href="https://www.mirror.co.uk/tv/tv-previews/military-men-obsessed-little-pony-6498303">controversy</a>. But <a href="https://researchportal.tuni.fi/en/publications/its-ok-to-be-joyful-my-little-pony-and-brony-masculinity">research</a> has found the reasons behind being a Brony aren’t suspicious or bizarre, but are empowering in unexpected ways.</p> <p>As Bronies themselves have explained, the fandom allows them to rethink what masculinity means to them, with the support of other fans online and at events such as <a href="https://www.npr.org/2019/08/14/750595032/the-friends-we-made-along-the-way-after-9-years-bronycon-calls-it-quits">BronyCon</a>.</p> <p>Why can’t “manliness” include watching a cute show about ponies with friendship at its heart?</p> <h2>The changing nature of children’s television</h2> <p>The rise of streaming has led to yet another shift. On-demand viewing means freedom from the constraints of TV scheduling, which historically set the terms for “child” and “adult” viewing.</p> <p>As <a href="https://www.routledge.com/Netflix-Dark-Fantastic-Genres-and-Intergenerational-Viewing-Family-Watch-Together-TV/Baker-Balanzategui-Sandars/p/book/9781032121895">our book details</a>, Netflix has invested in the expansion of cultural expectations around what makes “child-appropriate” television.</p> <p>Netflix’s mega hit Stranger Things deliberately pushes at these boundaries to attract a wide audience, from children and teens, to families, to adults without kids. As co-creator <a href="https://www.empireonline.com/movies/features/stranger-things-duffer-brothers-share-secrets-hit-show/">Matt Duffer explains</a>, the aim was to get children hooked on the show, and then later in the season “scare the shit out of them. Then the parents can get mad.”</p> <p>Parents certainly aren’t mad about their children getting hooked on Bluey. They may even be the secret to its global success: to keep the children watching, get the <em>adults</em> hooked.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/228610/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jessica-balanzategui-814024"><em>Jessica Balanzategui</em></a><em>, Senior Lecturer in Media, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/rmit-university-1063">RMIT University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/djoymi-baker-1269345">Djoymi Baker</a>, Lecturer in Media and Cinema Studies, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/rmit-university-1063">RMIT University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: ABC</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-are-adults-without-kids-hooked-on-bluey-and-should-we-still-be-calling-it-a-kids-show-228610">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

TV

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Advocates slam "ageist" call for older drivers to undergo mandatory testing

<p>A fresh push to make older drivers undergo mandatory health checks every year has been labelled ageist by advocates. </p> <p>General Practitioners have reignited the debate to introduce annual assessments for drivers in Victoria aged 75 and over, to bring the state in line with standards in other states including NSW, Queensland, WA and the Australian Capital Territory. </p> <p>“This is not about discriminating against older people, but a recognition that the skills that are required to drive safely can be lost as we get older,” the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Victoria chair Dr Anita Muñoz told <em>The Age</em>. </p> <p>"We do feel that having an annual assessment done for elderly drivers is a good thing," the college's Victoria co-deputy chair Dr Bindiya Sethi added. </p> <p>Victoria Police data obtained by <em>The Age</em> also showed that 145 people have died and 7080 have been injured in road incidents caused by people aged over 65. </p> <p>20 per cent of licence holders in Victoria are over 65, which has gone up from 16 per cent a decade ago. </p> <p>In the last financial year, there were 247 deaths and 16,265 injuries caused by crashes on Victorian roads, with drivers aged 65 and over responsible for around 10 per cent of these incidences. </p> <p>However, Chris Potaris, chief executive of the Council on the Ageing Victoria and Seniors Rights Victoria, has called the move "ageist". </p> <p>“We continue to support Victoria’s approach, which emphasises a driver’s behaviour and medical fitness to operate a motor vehicle,” he told the publication. </p> <p>“Driving should be based on ability, not on age.”</p> <p>Seniors Rights Victoria policy and advocacy manager Ben Rogers has also slammed the move. </p> <p>"We find it ageist and arbitrary ... It's targeting people that don't need to be targeted," Rogers said. </p> <p>MP Steve Dimopolous added that there was no evidence that an aged-based assessment model was any better than the existing rules. </p> <p>VicRoads also claimed that there is a lot of misinformation about older drivers, who are "usually more cautious, more experienced and more responsible" than younger drivers.</p> <p> </p> <p>"They are more likely to obey the law and are less likely to drink drive or speed," VicRoads said.</p> <p>However, a few others believe that mandatory assessments are a good move. </p> <p>"I think it's fair enough. Over a certain age, maybe 70 or so," local man Pat said.</p> <p>"I think the younger drivers are worse than the older drivers," another added. </p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p>

Legal

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Stay or go? Most older Australians want to retire where they are, but renters don’t always get a choice

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/christopher-phelps-378137">Christopher Phelps</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/curtin-university-873">Curtin University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rachel-ong-viforj-113482">Rachel Ong ViforJ</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/curtin-university-873">Curtin University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/william-clark-1488932">William Clark</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-california-los-angeles-1301">University of California, Los Angeles</a></em></p> <p>As Australia’s population gets older, more people are confronted with a choice: retire where they are or seek new horizons elsewhere.</p> <p>Choosing to grow old in your existing home or neighbourhood is known as “ageing in place”. It enables older people to stay connected to their community and maintain familiarity with their surroundings.</p> <p>For many, the decision to “age in place” will be tied to their connection to the family home. But for many, secure and affordable housing is increasingly <a href="https://theconversation.com/ageing-in-a-housing-crisis-growing-numbers-of-older-australians-are-facing-a-bleak-future-209237">beyond reach</a>. This choice may then be impeded by a lack of suitable accommodation in their current or desired neighbourhoods.</p> <p>Our recently published <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/01640275231209683">study</a> asks what motivates older homeowners and renters to age in place or relocate, and what factors disrupt these preferences. It suggests older renters are often not given a fair choice.</p> <h2>Most older Australians want to age in place</h2> <p>Having the option to age in place enables older people to retain autonomy over their lifestyles and identity, promoting emotional wellbeing.</p> <p>Using 20 years of data from the government-funded Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey, we tracked the preferences of Australians aged 55 and over.</p> <p>Encouragingly, most older Australians are already where they want to be.</p> <p>Two-thirds (67%) of respondents strongly preferred to stay in their current neighbourhood, and an additional one-fifth (19%) had a moderate preference to stay.</p> <p>Only 6% showed a moderate or strong desire to leave. Ageing in place is then the natural choice for a vast majority of older Australians.</p> <p><iframe id="s3LTM" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/s3LTM/1/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>Our study highlights several motivations for people to stay put as they retire.</p> <p>For homeowners, family ties matter. Owners with children residing nearby were around one and a half times more likely to have a higher preference to stay.</p> <p>Older owners might then have a reason to call on their substantial <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-housing-wealth-gap-between-older-and-younger-australians-has-widened-alarmingly-in-the-past-30-years-heres-why-197027">housing wealth</a> and keep their children nearby via the <a href="https://360info.org/how-to-help-the-young-buy-a-home/">“bank of mum and dad”</a>.</p> <p>For renters, how long they stay is important. Those renting their home for 10 years or more were 1.7 times more likely to have a higher preference to stay than short-term renters.</p> <h2>Renters face the most disruption</h2> <p>The survey enabled us to follow where older people lived a year after they provided their preferences. This helped us gauge how often they turned their desires into reality.</p> <p>The chart below indicates that private renters face greater obstacles to ageing in place.</p> <p>Around one in 10 private renters that desired to age in place were disrupted – they wanted to stay in their neighbourhood but didn’t. This suggests they moved out of their neighbourhood involuntarily.</p> <p>Only 2% of homeowners and social renters experienced the same disruption. However, for those in these tenures that did not desire to age in place, involuntary immobility was a greater concern. Only 15% of those that wanted to leave succeeded, leaving the vast majority “stuck in place”.</p> <p><iframe id="IlliV" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/IlliV/1/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>The private rental market is the least secure of tenures, and so private tenants are often exposed to involuntary moves. Australia’s private rental system is lightly regulated compared to many other countries, creating tenure insecurity concerns.</p> <p>On the other hand, social renters were particularly susceptible to involuntary immobility. Social housing is scarce in Australia and subject to <a href="https://theconversation.com/its-soul-destroying-how-people-on-a-housing-wait-list-of-175-000-describe-their-years-of-waiting-210705">lengthy waiting lists</a>. A neighbourhood move often requires transferring to the less affordable and less secure private rental housing.</p> <p>Even after considering financial status, social renters were four times as likely to be stuck as compared to private renters. Social tenants are strongly deterred from moving in the current system.</p> <h2>How can we support older Australians’ preferences?</h2> <p>Our study exposes some barriers in the housing system that hinder people from being able to age in place, or move when they want to. Clearly, older renters enjoy fewer protections against disruptions to their preferences to age in place than older owners.</p> <p>For private renters, tenure insecurity in the <a href="https://theconversation.com/insecure-renting-ages-you-faster-than-owning-a-home-unemployment-or-obesity-better-housing-policy-can-change-this-216364">private rental sector</a> is a key reform priority. This can be achieved through stronger regulation that improves tenants’ rights. For example, more states could adopt <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-5-key-tenancy-reforms-are-affecting-renters-and-landlords-around-australia-187779?utm_source=twitter&amp;utm_medium=bylinetwitterbutton">recent regulatory rental reforms</a> that support the rights of pet owners and protect against no-grounds evictions.</p> <p>Large numbers of older private renters also face severe <a href="https://www.oldertenants.org.au/publications/ageing-in-a-housing-crisis-older-peoples-housing-insecurity-homelessness-in-australia">rental stress</a>, which may force them to move from their preferred neighbourhood. <a href="https://theconversation.com/1-billion-per-year-or-less-could-halve-rental-housing-stress-146397">Commonwealth rent assistance reform</a> would alleviate some of this stress through an increase in rates and better targeting.</p> <p>An increase in the supply of social housing would play an important role in improving both tenure security and housing affordability. Older social renters enjoy fewer obstacles to ageing in place than older private renters.</p> <p>However, if social renters want to move into the private rental market to relocate, they face difficulty securing accommodation. This will likely discourage moves as it would require sacrificing the tenure security offered by social housing. However, policy initiatives that improve the <a href="https://www.ahuri.edu.au/sites/default/files/migration/documents/PES-358-Lessons-from-public-housing-urban-renewal-evaluation.pdf">quality of the public housing stock</a> can reduce feelings of being stuck.</p> <p>As <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-welfare/home-ownership-and-housing-tenure">homeownership rates decline</a> both among young people and those nearing retirement, we can expect the population of older renters to grow.</p> <p>Overall, our findings support a strong case for policy reform in the rental sectors to address the needs and preferences of older renters.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/218024/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/christopher-phelps-378137"><em>Christopher Phelps</em></a><em>, Research Fellow, School of Accounting, Economics and Finance, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/curtin-university-873">Curtin University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rachel-ong-viforj-113482">Rachel Ong ViforJ</a>, ARC Future Fellow &amp; Professor of Economics, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/curtin-university-873">Curtin University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/william-clark-1488932">William Clark</a>, Research Professor of Geography, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-california-los-angeles-1301">University of California, Los Angeles</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/stay-or-go-most-older-australians-want-to-retire-where-they-are-but-renters-dont-always-get-a-choice-218024">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Why our voices change as we get older

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/adam-taylor-283950">Adam Taylor</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/lancaster-university-1176">Lancaster University</a></em></p> <p>Sir Elton John set a record at this year’s Glastonbury, becoming the <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/news/elton-john-glastonbury-viewing-record-b2364260.html">most-watched headliner</a> in the festival’s history, with more than 7 million people tuning in live to the BBC to watch his last ever UK performance.</p> <p>The 76-year-old singer certainly delivered all his characteristic showmanship. But many who have followed his music over the decades will have noticed how much his voice has changed during his career – and not only because of the <a href="https://www.billboard.com/music/music-news/a-qa-with-elton-john-65620/">surgery he had</a> in the 1980s to <a href="https://ultimateclassicrock.com/elton-john-throat-surgery/">remove polyps</a> from his vocal cords.</p> <p>Equally, it’s not all down to the process of ageing. While it’s no mystery that this affects every part of our body, it isn’t the only reason that a person’s voice – even a professional singer like Sir Elton – can sound quite different over the years.</p> <h2>The sound of your voice</h2> <p>The vocal cords are what produce the sound of your voice. They are located in the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538202/">larynx</a>, a part of the respiratory system that allows air to pass from your throat to your lungs. When air passes out of the lungs and through the larynx, it causes the vocal cords to vibrate – <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5412481/">producing sound</a>.</p> <p>The vocal cords are composed of <a href="https://www.kenhub.com/en/library/anatomy/vocal-cords">three main parts</a>: the vocalis muscle, vocal ligament, and a mucous membrane (containing glands) to cover them. This keeps the surface moist and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2810851/">protects them from damage</a>.</p> <p>There are also approximately <a href="https://radiopaedia.org/articles/intrinsic-muscles-of-the-larynx?lang=gb">17 other muscles</a> in the larynx that can alter vocal cord position and tension – thus changing the sound produced.</p> <p>Pre-puberty, there’s very little difference in the sound the vocal cords produce. But during puberty, hormones begin exerting their effects. This changes the structure of the larynx – making the “Adam’s apple” more prominent in men – and the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0018506X16301271?via%3Dihub">length of the vocal cords</a>. After puberty, they’re around 16mm in length in men, and 10mm in women.</p> <p>Women’s vocal cords are also <a href="https://pubs.aip.org/asa/jasa/article/82/S1/S90/719336/Physiology-of-the-female-larynx">20-30%</a> thinner after puberty. These shorter, thinner vocal cords are the reason why women typically have <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3306615">higher voices</a> than men.</p> <p>Even after puberty, hormones can affect the voice. For instance, a woman’s voice may sound different depending on the stage of her menstrual cycle – with the <a href="https://www.jvoice.org/article/S0892-1997(08)00169-0/fulltext">best voice quality</a> being in the ovulatory phase. This is because the glands produce most mucous during this phase, giving the vocal cords their best functional ability.</p> <p>Research also shows that women taking the contraceptive pill show <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0892199717304940">less variation in voice quality</a> because the pill halts ovulation.</p> <p>On the other hand, hormonal changes during the premenstrual phase impede the vocal cords, making them stiffer. This may explain why opera singers would be offered “<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0892199717301133">grace days</a>” in the 1960s to ensure they didn’t damage their vocal cords. And, because <a href="https://www.asha.org/practice-portal/clinical-topics/voice-disorders/#collapse_1">women’s vocal cords</a> are thinner, they may also be more likely to <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15157130/">suffer damage</a> from overuse.</p> <h2>Everything ages</h2> <p>As with almost every other part of the body, vocal cords age. But these changes might not be as <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0892199721000011">noticeable for everyone</a>.</p> <p>As we get older, the larynx begins increasing its <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1752928X21001840">mineral content</a>, making it stiffer and more like bone than cartilage. This change can begin happening as early as <a href="https://meridian.allenpress.com/angle-orthodontist/article/75/2/196/57743/Ossification-of-Laryngeal-Cartilages-on-Lateral">your thirties</a> – especially in men. This makes the vocal cords less flexible.</p> <p>The muscles that allow the vocal cords to move also <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6166195/">begin wasting</a> (as do our other muscles) as we age. The ligaments and tissues that support the vocal cords also <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11800365/">lose elasticity</a>, becoming <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25645525/">less flexible</a>.</p> <p>There’s also a decrease in <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2695176/">pulmonary muscle function</a>, reducing the power of the air expelled from the lungs to create the sound. The number of glands that produce the protective mucus also decrease, alongside a reduction in the ability to <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10156980/">control the larynx</a>.</p> <h2>Lifestyle is a factor</h2> <p>While vocal cords age at largely the same rate in most people, many lifestyle factors can increase the risk of damage to them – and so can change the way your voice sounds.</p> <p>Smoking, for example, causes <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3918293/">localised inflammation</a>, increased <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4824943/">mucous production</a>, but can also <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4557797/">dry out</a> the mucosal surfaces. Alcohol has a <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6166195/">similar effect</a>. Over time, these factors can damage the vocal cords and alter the voice’s sound.</p> <p>Some over-the-counter and prescription drugs can also alter the voice – such as <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaotolaryngology/fullarticle/482932">steroid inhalers used for laryngitis</a>. Blood thinners may also <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10875579/">damage the vocal cords</a> and can cause polyps to form, making the voice sound raspy or hoarse. <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7395839/">Muscle relaxants</a>, too, can lead to irritation and vocal cord damage due to the drug allowing stomach acid to wash back into the larynx. Thankfully, the irritation and changes caused by these medications typically disappears after stopping use.</p> <p>One other lifestyle factor can be overuse, which is typically seen in singers and other people who use their voice a lot <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15157130/">during work</a>, such as teachers and fitness instructors. This can lead to an uncommon condition called <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9392404/">Reinke’s oedema</a>, which can also be caused by smoking. Reinke’s oedema causes fluid to swell in the vocal cords, changing the pitch of the voice – often <a href="https://www.cuh.nhs.uk/patient-information/reinkes-oedema/">making it deeper</a>.</p> <p>In extreme cases of Reinke’s oedema, <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00405-022-07377-9">surgery is needed</a> to drain the fluid. But in most cases, rest and avoiding irritants (smoking and alcohol) is beneficial, while speech and language therapy can also address the <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1460-6984.1995.tb01660.x">change in sound</a>.</p> <h2>Maintaining our vocal quality</h2> <p>While we can’t help some of the age-related changes that happen to our vocal cords, we can maintain some of our vocal quality and ability through continued use. This may explain why, in many cases, singers show <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27049451/">significantly less vocal change</a> with age than their non-singing counterparts.</p> <p>Singing or <a href="https://www.aarp.org/health/healthy-living/info-2014/improve-aging-voice.html">reading out</a> loud daily can give the vocal cords sufficient exercise to slow their decline.</p> <p><a href="https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/taking-care-your-voice">Looking after</a> your vocal cords is also important. Staying hydrated and limiting intake of <a href="https://www.cuh.nhs.uk/patient-information/presbyphonia/">alcohol</a> and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7069957/">tobacco</a> can help prevent high rates of decline and damage.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/208640/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/adam-taylor-283950"><em>Adam Taylor</em></a><em>, Professor and Director of the Clinical Anatomy Learning Centre, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/lancaster-university-1176">Lancaster University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-our-voices-change-as-we-get-older-208640">original article</a>.</em></p>

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COVID is surging in Australia – and only 1 in 5 older adults are up to date with their boosters

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/adrian-esterman-1022994">Adrian Esterman</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a></em></p> <p>Do you have family members or friends sick with a respiratory infection? If so, there’s a good chance it’s COVID, caused by the JN.1 variant currently circulating in Australia.</p> <p>In particular, New South Wales is reportedly experiencing its <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-01-09/nsw-sydney-covid-variant-virus-pandemic-hospitalisations/103298610">highest levels</a> of COVID infections in a year, while Victoria is said to be facing a “<a href="https://www.9news.com.au/national/victoria-in-midst-of-double-wave-of-covid19--as-jn1-triggers-infections-surge/4dada2cb-7d56-436a-9490-cad1d908a29a">double wave</a>” after a surge late last year.</p> <p>But nearly four years into the pandemic, data collection is less comprehensive than it was, and of course, fewer people are testing. So what do we know about the extent of this wave? And importantly, are we adequately protected?</p> <h2>Difficulties with data</h2> <p>Tracking COVID numbers was easier in the first half of last year, when each state and territory provided a weekly update, giving us data on case notifications, hospitalisations, ICU numbers and deaths.</p> <p>In the second half of the year some states and territories switched to less frequent reporting while others stopped their regular updates. As a result, different jurisdictions now report at different intervals and provide varying statistics.</p> <p>For example, <a href="https://www.health.vic.gov.au/infectious-diseases/victorian-covid-19-surveillance-report">Victoria</a> still provides weekly reports, while NSW publishes <a href="https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/covid-19/Documents/respiratory-surveillance-20240106.pdf">fortnightly updates</a>.</p> <p>While each offer different metrics, we can gather – particularly from data on hospitalisations – that both states are experiencing a wave. We’re also seeing high levels of COVID <a href="https://www.health.vic.gov.au/infectious-diseases/victorian-covid-19-surveillance-report">in wastewater</a>.</p> <p>Meanwhile, <a href="https://health.nt.gov.au/covid-19/data">Northern Territory Health</a> simply tell you to go to the Australian government’s Department of Health website for COVID data. This houses the only national COVID <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/topics/covid-19/reporting?language=und">data collection</a>. Unfortunately, it’s not up to date, difficult to use, and, depending on the statistic, often provides no state and territory breakdowns.</p> <p>Actual case notifications are provided on a separate <a href="https://nindss.health.gov.au/pbi-dashboard/">website</a>, although given the lack of testing, these are likely to be highly inaccurate.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/topics/covid-19/reporting?language=und">Department of Health website</a> does provide some other data that gives us clues as to what’s happening. For example, as of one month ago, there were 317 active outbreaks of COVID in aged care homes. This figure has been generally rising since September.</p> <p>Monthly prescriptions for antivirals on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme were increasing rapidly in November, but we are not given more recent data on this.</p> <p>It’s also difficult to obtain information about currently circulating strains. Data expert Mike Honey provides a regularly updated <a href="https://github.com/Mike-Honey/covid-19-genomes?tab=readme-ov-file#readme">snapshot</a> for Australia based on data from GISAID (the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data) that shows JN.1 rising in prevalence and accounting for about 40% of samples two weeks ago. The proportion is presumably higher now.</p> <h2>What’s happening elsewhere?</h2> <p>Many other countries are currently going through a COVID wave, probably driven to a large extent by JN.1. These include <a href="https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/506301/covid-19-complacency-waning-immunity-contribute-to-fifth-wave-epidemiologist">New Zealand</a>, <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/facemasks-mandatory-spain-hospitals-b2475563.html">Spain, Greece</a> and the United States.</p> <p>According to cardiologist and scientist Eric Topol, the US is currently experiencing its <a href="https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2024-01-04/covid-2024-flu-virus-vaccine">second biggest wave</a> since the start of the pandemic, linked to JN.1.</p> <h2>Are vaccines still effective?</h2> <p>It’s expected the current COVID vaccines, which target the omicron variant XBB.1.5, are still <a href="https://www.gavi.org/vaccineswork/seven-things-you-need-know-about-jn1-covid-19-variant">effective</a> at reducing hospitalisations and deaths from JN.1 (also an omicron offshoot).</p> <p>The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) updated their <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/news/atagi-update-on-the-covid-19-vaccination-program">advice</a> on booster shots in September last year. They recommended adults aged over 75 should receive an additional COVID vaccine dose in 2023 if six months had passed since their last dose.</p> <p>They also suggest all adults aged 65 to 74 (plus adults of any age who are severely immunocompromised) should consider getting an updated booster. They say younger people or older adults who are not severely immunocompromised and have already had a dose in 2023 don’t need further doses.</p> <p>This advice is very confusing. For example, although ATAGI does not recommend additional booster shots for younger age groups, does this mean they’re not allowed to have one?</p> <p>In any case, as of <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/covid-19-vaccine-rollout-update-8-december-2023?language=en">December 6</a>, only 19% of people aged 65 and over had received a booster shot in the last six months. For those aged 75 and over, this figure is 23%. Where is the messaging to these at-risk groups explaining why updating their boosters is so important?</p> <h2>Should we be concerned by this wave?</h2> <p>That depends on who we mean by “we”. For those who are vulnerable, absolutely. Mainly because so few have received an updated booster shot and very few people, including the elderly, are wearing masks.</p> <p>For the majority of people, a COVID infection is unlikely to be serious. The biggest concern for younger people is the risk of long COVID, which research suggests <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-022-02051-3">increases</a> with each reinfection.</p> <h2>What should we expect in 2024?</h2> <p>It’s highly likely we will see repeated waves of infections over the next 12 months and beyond, mainly caused by waning immunity from previous infection, vaccination or both, and new subvariants.</p> <p>Unless a new subvariant causes more severe disease (and at this stage, there’s no evidence JN.1 does), we should be able to manage quite well, without our hospitals becoming overwhelmed. However, we should be doing more to protect our vulnerable population. Having only one in five older people up to date with a booster and more than 300 outbreaks in aged care homes is not acceptable.</p> <p>For those who are vulnerable, the usual advice applies. Make sure you’re up to date with your booster shots, wear a P2/N95 mask when out and about, and if you do get infected, take antivirals as soon as possible.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/220839/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/adrian-esterman-1022994"><em>Adrian Esterman</em></a><em>, Professor of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/covid-is-surging-in-australia-and-only-1-in-5-older-adults-are-up-to-date-with-their-boosters-220839">original article</a>.</em></p>

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1 in 4 adults think smacking is necessary to ‘properly raise’ kids. But attitudes are changing

<p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/divna-haslam-893417">D<em>ivna Haslam</em></a><em>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland University of Technology</a></em></p> <p>“Do you want a smack?!” This has been a common refrain from many parents across history. Right along with “just wait till your father gets home”. Somehow parents thought this threat of violence would magically improve their child’s behaviour.</p> <p>The United Nations <a href="https://www.right-to-education.org/sites/right-to-education.org/files/resource-attachments/CRC_1989.pdf">Convention on the Rights of the Child</a> considers smacking and all types of physical punishment, however mild, a violation of child rights. It’s banned in <a href="https://endcorporalpunishment.org/countdown/">65 countries</a>.</p> <p>Yet it remains <a href="https://aifs.gov.au/resources/resource-sheets/physical-punishment-legislation#:%7E:text=Physical%20punishment%20by%20a%20parent%20towards%20a%20child%20remains%20lawful,'">legal</a> in Australia for parents to use “reasonable force” for discipline. Children are the only group of people it remains legal to hit.</p> <p>Our <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1002/ajs4.301">new research</a> found one in four Australians still think physical punishment is necessary to “properly raise” children. And half of parents (across all age groups) reported smacking their children.</p> <p>But attitudes are slowly changing, with newer generations of parents less likely to smack their kids than previous ones.</p> <h2>What is physical punishment?</h2> <p><a href="https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1njkrb">Physical</a> or “corporal” punishment is the use of physical force to cause pain, but not injury, to discipline a child for misbehaviour. It’s distinct from physical abuse which is more extreme and not used to correct behaviour.</p> <p>Physical punishment is <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ajs4.276#:%7E:text=Corporal%20punishment%20(CP)%20is%20the,and%20Christian%20missionaries%20during%20colonisation.">the most common type</a> of violence against children. It usually involves smacking, but also includes things like pinching, slapping, or using an implement such as wooden spoon, cane or belt.</p> <p>Smacking doesn’t actually work and makes behaviour <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0956797617729816?casa_token=YHpEf1m4GiwAAAAA%3A8VRH5_z9fufHJiFGpWVYAk0kuTZCCRB-zneATDatqfLomERAhcyyIES30hMPdIIQ-E-IHOTekiC0Zg&amp;journalCode=pssa">worse over time</a>. And it’s <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037%2Ffam0000191">associated with</a> children internalising problems, increased child aggression, poor parent-child relationships, poorer metal heath and more.</p> <p>In contrast, there are a lot of non-violent parenting strategies that <a href="https://theconversation.com/research-shows-its-harmful-to-smack-your-child-so-what-should-parents-do-instead-186739">do work</a>.</p> <h2>Assessing the state of smacking in Australia</h2> <p>We conducted the first <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1002/ajs4.301">study</a> to comprehensively assess the state of smacking and physical punishment in Australia. We wanted to determine if smacking was still common and how many Australians believed we need to smack our kids.</p> <p>We interviewed more than 8,500 Australians aged 16 to 65 years. Our sample was representative of the national population so we can be confident the findings represent the thoughts and experiences of Australians as a nation.</p> <p>Using such a large age range allowed us to compare people across different age groups to determine if changes are occurring.</p> <h2>What we found</h2> <p>Overall, six in ten (62.5%) Australians between 16–65 years had experienced four or more instances of smacking or physical punishment in childhood. Men were slightly more likely to be physically punished than women (66.3% v 59.1%).</p> <p>Young people, aged 16–24, reported slightly lower rates (58.4%) than older people suggesting a slight decline over time. But these rates remain unacceptably high.</p> <p>Overall, one in two (53.7%) Australian parents reported using some type of physical punishment, mostly about once a month.</p> <p>However, older parents reported on this retrospectively (what they did while raising children) and there were clear age differences:</p> <ul> <li>64.2% of parents aged over 65 years had used physical punishment</li> <li>32.8% of parents 25–34 years had used it</li> <li>14.4% of parents under 24 had used it.</li> </ul> <p>So younger generations of parents are substantially less likely to use physical punishment.</p> <p><iframe id="3dcJw" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/3dcJw/2/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>Concerningly, one-quarter (26.4%) of all Australians still believe physical punishment is necessary to properly raise children. But the vast majority (73.6%) do not.</p> <p>And generational change is occurring. Some 37.9% of Australians older than 65 believe physical punishment is necessary compared to 22.9% of those aged 35–44 years, and only 14.8% of people under age 24.</p> <p><iframe id="NT51y" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/NT51y/3/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>Socioeconomically disadvantaged people are 2.3 times more likely to believe physical punishment is necessary than those with no disadvantage.</p> <p>Parents who had been physically disciplined when they were children were both more likely to believe it is needed and more likely to use it with their own children. This indicates this form of violence is transmitted across generations.</p> <h2>Time for change</h2> <p>Law reform works best when changes in community attitudes and behaviours are already occurring. So it’s encouraging that younger people are much less likely to believe physical punishment is necessary and are much less likely to use it. This suggests Australians may be open to prohibiting this common form of violence.</p> <p>All states and territories should immediately enact legal reform to prohibit corporal punishment and protect the rights of Australian children. This should be paired with public health and education campaigns about what parents can do instead.</p> <p>If you are a parent looking for effective non-violent parenting strategies the <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/ministers/the-hon-greg-hunt-mp/media/406-million-to-support-the-mental-health-and-wellbeing-of-aussie-kids">government</a> has also made the <a href="https://www.triplep-parenting.net.au/qld-en/free-parenting-courses/triple-p-online-under-12/?gad_source=1&amp;gclid=Cj0KCQiAgqGrBhDtARIsAM5s0_mmMmbY3khwvp306pGOijqntKzYh6dDI5lQYszLgl6_BOGnuk8HMeEaAn_vEALw_wcB">Triple P Positive Parenting Program</a> available for free. This online program provides practical strategies parents can use to encourage positive behaviour and calm, alternative discipline techniques that can be used to instead of smacking.</p> <p>A number of other evidence-based programs, such as <a href="https://tuningintokids.org.au/">Tuning Into Kids</a>, Parents Under Pressure and <a href="https://www.pcit.org/pcit-in-australia.html">Parent Child Interaction Therapy</a>, are also available.</p> <p>Australia has an opportunity to capitalise on naturally occurring societal changes. We can interrupt this cycle of violence and give more Australians a childhood free of violence. <!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/218837/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/divna-haslam-893417"><em>Divna Haslam</em></a><em>, Senior Research Fellow, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland University of Technology</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/1-in-4-adults-think-smacking-is-necessary-to-properly-raise-kids-but-attitudes-are-changing-218837">original article</a>.</em></p>

Caring

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5 financial lessons you should impart to your adult children

<p>Ultimately, we want our kids to live long, happy, healthy lives. </p> <p>Financial security is central to achieving this dream. So it may be time to have a chat about matters of money and ensure they are well set up for a prosperous future!</p> <p>While there are many important things to instil in future generations, the five below are perhaps the most crucial current-day issues for your adult children to master.</p> <ol> <li><strong>Avoid BNPL</strong></li> </ol> <p>Buy now, pay later (BNPL) schemes have taken off in popularity in recent years, allowing shoppers to purchase and use goods straight away yet pay for them over time in instalments. Sound too good to be true? Indeed.</p> <p>Most schemes attach hefty penalties and interest for missed or late repayments – much the same as credit cards. The debt quickly balloons, and can become unsustainable.</p> <p>The best approach to instil in your children is to always live within their means.</p> <ol start="2"> <li><strong>Avoid sexually transmitted debt</strong></li> </ol> <p>Joint finances, loans, credit cards, utilities, subscriptions, vehicles, businesses, property… all of these and more are shared liabilities. </p> <p>Even if a partner is the one who racks up the debts, your child is equally responsible for repaying them. This is what I call sexually transmitted debt.</p> <p>It could be inadvertent (such as having a partner who, despite their best intentions, is simply bad with money); hidden (like gambling addiction), deliberate (financial abuse), lose their job, have an accident, get seriously unwell.</p> <p>Either way, sexually transmitted debts can create long-term and even life-long problems, regardless of whether the relationship that created those debts survives: repayment struggles, credit constraints, bankruptcy, legal woes.</p> <p>When it comes to money, your children (and yourself) need to think with their head, not their heart.</p> <ol start="3"> <li><strong>Start investing </strong></li> </ol> <p>The number one thing financial advisers hear most is “I wish I started years ago”.</p> <p>Investments typically grow over time. The more time you allow, the bigger their value.</p> <p>Younger adults have big demands on their hip pocket. However, even starting with small investments allows compound growth to work its magic.</p> <p>Plus, given the housing affordability constraints facing younger generations, investments that can be sold or leveraged could better help them onto the housing ladder in future.</p> <p>Superannuation is another investment to pay attention to from a young age: managing investments, ensuring they are in a cost-effective fund, and avoiding mistakes – like consolidating funds without getting advice, which can inadvertently see them consolidate into a poorer performing fund or cancel attached insurances that had preferential terms.</p> <ol start="4"> <li><strong>Get a will</strong></li> </ol> <p>While young people may feel invincible, untimely deaths or disablement claims sadly can and do happen. And often unexpectedly: land transport accidents and accidental poisoning, together with suicide, make up <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/life-expectancy-deaths/deaths-in-australia/contents/leading-causes-of-death">the biggest causes of death for under 44s</a> in Australia.</p> <p>Not having a will and a nominated executor complicates matters for grieving family and can delay all-important access to finances. How would your child’s partner and kids (if they have them) survive if their super, insurances and other payouts are delayed through probate? </p> <p>Remember to point out that superannuation (and other structures like companies and trusts) are treated separately from a will, and so need beneficiaries nominated within them.</p> <p>Younger people are also less likely to have discussed their final wishes with loved ones – funeral arrangements, burial vs cremation, organ donation, inheritances etc. This is where a separate statement of wishes can be useful.</p> <ol start="5"> <li><strong>Get insured</strong></li> </ol> <p>Insurances – save perhaps vehicle and house/contents – are rarely on the minds of younger people. But they should be.</p> <p>That is because many insurances are cheaper and offer better coverage when people are younger and free of any health complications. That includes private health, life and permanent disability, and income protection cover. </p> <p>Other insurances, like asset protection, can also be more lucrative to lock-in early. Just think about how the Ts and Cs on insurances have changed (become more restrictive) since you were their age!</p> <p>So encourage your adult children to scrutinise their insurance coverage. (And keep them away from drugs and smoking to stay healthier for longer!)</p> <p><em><strong>Helen Baker is a licensed Australian financial adviser and author of the new book, On Your Own Two Feet: The Essential Guide to Financial Independence for all Women (Ventura Press, $32.99). Helen is among the 1% of financial planners who hold a master’s degree in the field. Proceeds from book sales are donated to charities supporting disadvantaged women and children. Find out more at <a href="http://www.onyourowntwofeet.com.au">www.onyourowntwofeet.com.au</a> </strong></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

Money & Banking

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About 1 in 6 older Australians experiences elder abuse. Here are the reasons they don’t get help

<p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/eileen-obrien-95332">Eileen O'Brien</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a></em>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/catriona-stevens-1455614">Catriona Stevens</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edith-cowan-university-720">Edith Cowan University</a></em>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/loretta-virginia-baldassar-1485078">Loretta Virginia Baldassar</a></p> <p>Each year, many older Australians experience abuse, neglect or financial exploitation, usually at the hands of their adult children or other close relatives.</p> <p>A recent <a href="https://aifs.gov.au/research/research-reports/national-elder-abuse-prevalence-study-final-report">national prevalence study</a> revealed one in six older Australians living at home experiences elder abuse. This may encompass various forms of abuse, such as emotional, financial, social, physical and sexual abuse, or neglect.</p> <p>Despite elder abuse being such a common problem, older people often don’t get the help they need. With the right responses, we can make it easier for those working with older people, and the wider community, to support them.</p> <p>Our <a href="https://www.wa.gov.au/system/files/2023-11/everyones_business_research_into_responses_to_the_abuse_of_older_in_wa_report.pdf">new research</a> reveals the key reasons older people experiencing harm do not receive the support they so desperately need.</p> <p>Our study included a survey of nearly 700 service providers throughout Western Australia. Respondents worked in diverse fields including healthcare, law, aged care, financial services and law enforcement. We found four key obstacles to people getting help with elder abuse.</p> <p><strong>1. Older people are too scared to report abuse.</strong></p> <p>Older people are often afraid to report abuse because they fear repercussions both for themselves and for the perpetrator, usually an adult child or other close relative.</p> <p>These concerns can mean an older person endures abuse for a long time. They may only seek help when the situation escalates to an extreme level or when someone else notices the ongoing mistreatment.</p> <p>Equally important, they may fear other negative outcomes of reporting abuse. They may fear having to leave their home and enter residential care. They may fear increased isolation and loneliness, or that the abuse will get worse.</p> <p>All these fears combined create a formidable barrier to older people promptly reporting abuse and getting the help they need.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en"><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ElderAbuse?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ElderAbuse</a> is more common than people realize. It can happen: </p> <p>In their own homes <br />In hospitals <br />In nursing homes or other kinds of long-term care facilities </p> <p>Learn more, including how to prevent elder abuse: <a href="https://t.co/CAkBHQO4gm">https://t.co/CAkBHQO4gm</a><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Alzheimers?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Alzheimers</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/dementia?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#dementia</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/aging?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#aging</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/geriatrics?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#geriatrics</a> <a href="https://t.co/gO3Dc6Dy3Z">pic.twitter.com/gO3Dc6Dy3Z</a></p> <p>— Ian Kremer (@LEAD_Coalition) <a href="https://twitter.com/LEAD_Coalition/status/1720567529200918550?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">November 3, 2023</a></p></blockquote> <p><strong>2. Older people don’t know where to turn for help</strong></p> <p>Elder abuse cases are often complex, involving long family histories and complicated relationships. Older people trying to improve their situation may need support from multiple service providers. The challenge of accessing the right services and acting on their advice can be daunting.</p> <p>Addressing complicated matters may require intensive support and advocacy for an extended time. In the words of one experienced advocate,</p> <blockquote> <p>People don’t need to know the next ten steps. They need to know one step, maybe two, and then see where they are at.</p> </blockquote> <p>Helping older people feel empowered to seek help requires simple, accessible channels of assistance, promoted through multiple formats and outreach efforts.</p> <p><strong>3. Government-funded responses to family violence are more focused on intimate partner violence and child protection, leaving elder abuse out of the picture</strong></p> <p>Most programs targeting family violence prioritise intimate partner violence and child protection, inadvertently sidelining elder abuse. Services such as shelters and perpetrator programs are not always compatible with the distinct characteristics of elder abuse.</p> <p>Additionally, the gendered nature of family violence responses fails to address the diverse demographics of elder abuse, which includes older men. As a result, older people, regardless of gender, may struggle to access supports suited to their needs.</p> <p>A refuge manager explained:</p> <blockquote> <p>When a bed becomes available we have this awful job of deciding who’s more high-risk and who gets the bed. If an older person needs the bed, as opposed to a single mum with a newborn, unfortunately we would go with the mum. That really presents a barrier where there isn’t refuge accommodation specifically for older people.</p> </blockquote> <p>There is a pressing need for a shift in focus to better recognise elder abuse as a significant issue and tailor responses to meet the specific needs of older people. This includes creating safe and accessible refuge options and providing specialised support services to address the multifaceted nature of elder abuse.</p> <p><strong>4. There’s low public awareness about what elder abuse looks like or how to respond</strong></p> <p>Awareness of elder abuse remains surprisingly low, hindering effective responses. Changing this requires clear public information campaigns and community-wide conversations about abuse. This includes greater awareness of the challenge for well-meaning adult children who might limit the choices of their older relatives, thinking they know best. This can result in unintended social isolation or even neglect.</p> <p>A society that speaks openly about elder abuse, without stigma, is better equipped to support victims and intervene. By building public knowledge and promoting a culture where such issues can be freely discussed, we lay the groundwork for reducing its incidence.</p> <p>We are living longer lives than ever before, meaning we can expect to spend more years in older age than previous generations. This is good news, but also means we need to do more work to support people to age well. Positive steps we can all take include tackling ageism when we see it and normalising conversations about abuse so older people can feel confident to seek help when it’s needed.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/216827/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/eileen-obrien-95332">Eileen O'Brien</a>, Professor of Law, Discipline of Law, Justice and Society, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a></em>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/catriona-stevens-1455614">Catriona Stevens</a>, Forrest Prospect Fellow in Sociology and Anthropology, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edith-cowan-university-720">Edith Cowan University</a></em>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/loretta-virginia-baldassar-1485078">Loretta Virginia Baldassar</a>, Vice Chancellor Professorial Research Fellow, School of Arts and Humanities, Edith Cowan University</p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/about-1-in-6-older-australians-experiences-elder-abuse-here-are-the-reasons-they-dont-get-help-216827">original article</a>.</p>

Legal

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How much protein do I need as I get older? And do I need supplements to get enough?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/evangeline-mantzioris-153250">Evangeline Mantzioris</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a></em></p> <p>If you are a woman around 50, you might have seen advice on social media or <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CyVwOSzucnh">from influencers</a> telling you protein requirements increase dramatically in midlife. Such recommendations suggest a 70 kilogram woman needs around 150 grams of protein each day. That’s the equivalent of 25 boiled eggs at 6 grams of protein each.</p> <p>Can that be right? Firstly let’s have a look at what protein is and where you get it.</p> <p><a href="https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/protein">Protein</a> is an essential macro-nutrient in our diet. It provides us with energy and is used to repair and make muscle, bones, soft tissues and hormones and enzymes. Mostly we associate animal foods (dairy, meat and eggs) as being rich in protein. Plant foods such as bread, grains and legumes provide valuable sources of protein too.</p> <p>But what happens to our requirements as we get older?</p> <h2>Ages and stages</h2> <p>Protein requirements change <a href="https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/nutrient-reference-values/nutrients/protein">through different life stages</a>. This reflects changes in growth, especially from babies through to young adulthood. The estimated average requirements by age are:</p> <ul> <li> <p>1.43g protein per kg of body weight at birth</p> </li> <li> <p>1.6g per kg of body weight at 6–12 months (when protein requirements are at their highest point)</p> </li> <li> <p>protein needs decline from 0.92g down to 0.62g per kg of body weight from 6–18 years.</p> </li> </ul> <p>When we reach adulthood, protein requirements differ for men and women, which reflects the higher muscle mass in men compared to women:</p> <ul> <li> <p>0.68g per kg of body weight for men</p> </li> <li> <p>0.6g per kg of body weight for women.</p> </li> </ul> <p>Australian recommendations for people over 70 reflect the increased need for tissue repair and muscle maintenance:</p> <ul> <li> <p>0.86g per kg of bodyweight for men</p> </li> <li> <p>0.75g per kg of bodyweight for women.</p> </li> </ul> <p>For a 70kg man this is a difference of 12.6g/protein per day. For a 70kg woman this is an increase of 10.5g per day. You can add 10g of protein by consuming an extra 300ml milk, 60g cheese, 35g chicken, 140g lentils, or 3–4 slices of bread.</p> <p>There is emerging evidence <a href="https://www.scopus.com/record/display.uri?eid=2-s2.0-85124835199&amp;origin=resultslist&amp;sort=plf-f&amp;cite=2-s2.0-84881254292&amp;src=s&amp;nlo=&amp;nlr=&amp;nls=&amp;imp=t&amp;sid=c07c9e014577c86ab8cf85c62d9764cd&amp;sot=cite&amp;sdt=a&amp;sl=0&amp;relpos=39&amp;citeCnt=6&amp;searchTerm=">higher intakes</a> for people over 70 (up to 0.94–1.3g per kg of bodyweight per day) might reduce age-related decline in muscle mass (known as sarcopenia). But this must be accompanied with increased resistance-based exercise, such as using weights or stretchy bands. As yet these have not been included in any national nutrient guidelines.</p> <h2>But what about in midlife?</h2> <p>So, part of a push for higher protein in midlife might be due to wanting to prevent age-related muscle loss. And it might also be part of a common desire to prevent weight gain that may come with <a href="https://obgyn.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1471-0528.17290?af=R">hormonal changes</a>.</p> <p>There have been relatively few studies specifically looking at protein intake in middle-aged women. One large 2017 observational study (where researchers look for patterns in a population sample) of over 85,000 middle-aged nurses found higher intake of vegetable protein – but not animal protein or total protein – was linked to a <a href="https://academic.oup.com/aje/article/187/2/270/3886033">lower incidence of early menopause</a>.</p> <p>In the same group of women another study found higher intake of vegetable protein was linked to a <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/jcsm.12972">lower risk of frailty</a> (meaning a lower risk of falls, disability, hospitalisation and death). Higher intake of animal protein was linked to higher risk of frailty, but total intake of protein had no impact.</p> <p>Another <a href="https://journals.lww.com/menopausejournal/abstract/2017/05000/skeletal_muscle_mass_is_associated_with_higher.9.aspx">smaller observational study</a> of 103 postmenopausal women found higher lean muscle mass in middle-aged women with higher protein intake. Yet an <a href="https://journals.lww.com/menopausejournal/abstract/2021/03000/effects_of_high_protein,_low_glycemic_index_diet.11.aspx">intervention study</a> (where researchers test out a specific change) showed no effect of higher protein intake on lean body mass in late post-menopasual women.</p> <p><a href="https://obgyn.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1471-0528.17290?af=R">Some researchers</a> are theorising that higher dietary protein intake, along with a reduction in kilojoules, could reduce weight gain in menopause. But this has not been tested in clinical trials.</p> <p>Increasing <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7539343/">protein intake</a>, improves satiety (feeling full), which may be responsible for reducing body weight and maintaining muscle mass. The protein intake to improve satiety in studies has been about 1.0–1.6g per kg of bodyweight per day. However such studies have not been specific to middle-aged women, but across all ages and in both men and women.</p> <h2>What are we actually eating?</h2> <p>If we look at what the <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/health-conditions-and-risks/australian-health-survey-usual-nutrient-intakes/latest-release">average daily intake of protein is</a>, we can see 99% of Australians under the age of 70 meet their protein requirements from food. So most adults won’t need supplements.</p> <p>Only 14% of men over 70 and 4% of women over 70 do not meet their estimated average protein requirements. This could be for many reasons, including a decline in overall health or an illness or injury which leads to reduced appetite, reduced ability to prepare foods for themselves and also the cost of animal sources of protein.</p> <p>While they may benefit from increased protein from supplements, opting for a food-first approach is preferable. As well as being more familiar and delicious, it comes with other essential nutrients. For example, red meat also has iron and zinc in it, fish has omega-3 fats, and eggs have vitamin A and D, some iron and omega-3 fats and dairy has calcium.</p> <h2>So what should I do?</h2> <p>Symptoms of <a href="https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/protein#getting-too-little-protein-protein-deficiency">protein deficiency</a> include muscle wasting, poor wound healing, oedema (fluid build-up) and anaemia (when blood doesn’t provide enough oxygen to cells). But the amount of protein in the average Australian diet means deficiency is rare. The <a href="https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/guidelines/australian-guide-healthy-eating">Australian dietary guidelines</a> provide information on the number of serves you need from each food group to achieve a balanced diet that will meet your nutrient requirements.</p> <p>If you are concerned about your protein intake due to poor health, increased demand because of the sports you’re doing or because you are a vegan or vegetarian, talk to your GP or an accredited practising dietitian.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/215695/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/evangeline-mantzioris-153250"><em>Evangeline Mantzioris</em></a><em>, Program Director of Nutrition and Food Sciences, Accredited Practising Dietitian, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-much-protein-do-i-need-as-i-get-older-and-do-i-need-supplements-to-get-enough-215695">original article</a>.</em></p>

Body

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Can a daily multivitamin improve your memory?

<p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jacques-raubenheimer-1144463">Jacques Raubenheimer</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/au/topics/research-check-25155">Research Checks</a> interrogate newly published studies and how they’re reported in the media. The analysis is undertaken by one or more academics not involved with the study, and reviewed by another, to make sure it’s accurate.</em></p> <hr /> <p>Don’t we all want to do what we can to reduce the impact of age-related decline on our memory?</p> <p>A new study suggests a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement is a simple and inexpensive way to help older adults slow the decline in some aspects of memory function.</p> <p>The <a href="https://ajcn.nutrition.org/article/S0002-9165(23)48904-6/fulltext">new study</a>, which comes from a <a href="https://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02422745?term=NCT02422745&amp;draw=2&amp;rank=1">long-running clinical trial</a>, shows there may be a small benefit of taking a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement for one type of cognitive task (immediate word recall) among well-functioning elderly white people. At least in the short term.</p> <p>But that doesn’t mean we should all rush out and buy multivitamins. The results of the study don’t apply to the whole population, or to all types of memory function. Nor does the study show long-term benefits.</p> <h2>How was the study conducted?</h2> <p>The overarching COSMOS study is a well-designed double-blind randomised control trial. This means participants were randomly allocated to receive the intervention (a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement) or a placebo (dummy tablet), but neither the participants nor the researchers knew which one they were taking.</p> <p>This type of study is considered the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5654877/">gold standard</a> and allows researchers to compare various outcomes.</p> <p>Participants (3,562) were older than 64 for women, and 59 for men, with no history of heart attack, invasive cancer, stroke or serious illness. They couldn’t use multivitamins or minerals (or <a href="https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.2216932120">cocoa extract</a> which they also tested) during the trial.</p> <p>Participants completed a <a href="https://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04582617?term=NCT04582617&amp;draw=2&amp;rank=1">battery of online cognitive tests</a> at the start of the study (known as baseline), then yearly for three years, of which only three were reported in this paper:</p> <ul> <li> <p>ModRey, measuring immediate recall. Participants were shown “a list of 20 words, one at a time, for three seconds each,” and then had to type the list from memory</p> </li> <li> <p>ModBent, measuring object recognition. Participants were given 20 prompts with a shape and then had to select the correct match from a pair of similar prompts. After this, they were prompted with 40 shapes in turn, and had to indicate whether each was included in the original 20 or not</p> </li> <li> <p>Flanker, measuring “executive control”. Participants had to select a coloured block that corresponded to an arrow in a matrix of arrows, which could have the same (or different) colour to the surrounding arrows, and the same (or different) direction as the prompt block.</p> </li> </ul> <h2>What did the researchers find?</h2> <p>Of all the tests the researchers performed, only immediate recall (ModRey) at one year showed a significant effect, meaning the result is unlikely to just be a result of chance.</p> <p>At two and three years, the effect was no longer significant (meaning it could be down to chance).</p> <p>However they added an “overall estimate” by averaging the results from all three years to arrive at another significant effect.</p> <p>All the effect sizes reported are very small. The largest effect is for the participants’ immediate recall at one year, which was 0.07 – a value that is <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jpepsy/article/34/9/917/939415">generally considered very small without justification</a>.</p> <p>Also of note is that both the multivitamin and placebo groups had higher immediate word recall scores at one year (compared to baseline), although the multivitamin group’s increase was significantly larger.</p> <p><a href="https://www.pnas.org/doi/epdf/10.1073/pnas.2216932120">In the researchers’ prior study</a>, the increase in word recall scores was described as a “typical learning (practice) effect”. This means they attributed the higher scores at one year to familiarisation with the test.</p> <p>For some reason, this “learning effect” was not discussed in the current paper, where the treatment group showed a significantly larger increase compared to those who were given the placebo.</p> <h2>What are the limitations of the study?</h2> <p>The team used a suitable statistical analysis. However, it did not adjust for demographic characteristics such as age, gender, race, and level of education.</p> <p>The authors detail their study’s major limitation well: it is not very generalisable, as it used “mostly white participants” who had to be very computer literate, and, one could argue, would be quite well-functioning cognitively.</p> <figure class="align-center "><figcaption></figcaption>Another unmentioned limitation is the advanced age of their sample, meaning long-term results for younger people can’t be assessed.</figure> <p>Additionally, the baseline diet score for their sample was abysmal. The researchers say participants’ diet scores “were consistent with <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/1899558">averages from the US population</a>” but the cited study noted “the overall dietary quality… [was] poor.”</p> <p>And they didn’t measure changes in diet over the three years, which could impact the results.</p> <h2>How should we interpret the results?</h2> <p>The poor dietary quality of the sample raises the question: can a better diet be the simple fix, rather than multivitamin and mineral supplements?</p> <p>Even for the effect they observed, which micronutrient from the supplement was the contributing factor?</p> <p>The researchers speculate about vitamins B12 and D. But you can find research on cognitive function for any arbitrarily chosen <a href="https://www.centrum.com/content/dam/cf-consumer-healthcare/bp-wellness-centrum/en_US/pdf/lbl-00000775-web-ready-centrum-silver-adults-tablets-(versio.pdf">ingredient</a>, including <a href="https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&amp;as_sdt=0%2C5&amp;q=selenium+cognitive+function">selenium</a>, which can be <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969720378608">toxic at high levels</a>.</p> <h2>So should I take a multivitamin?</h2> <p><a href="https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2013/08/should-you-take-dietary-supplements">Health authorities advise</a> daily multivitamin use isn’t necessary, as you can get all the nutrients you need by eating a wide variety of healthy foods. However, supplementation may be appropriate to meet any specific nutrient gaps an individual has.</p> <p>Using a good quality multivitamin at the recommended dose shouldn’t do any harm, but at best, this study shows well-functioning elderly white people might show some additional benefit in one type of cognitive task from using a multivitamin supplement.</p> <p>The case for most of the rest of the population, and the long-term benefit for younger people, can’t be made.</p> <hr /> <h2>Blind peer review</h2> <p><strong>Clare Collins writes:</strong></p> <p>I agree with the reviewer’s assessment, which is a comprehensive critique of the study. The key result was a small effect size from taking a daily multivitamin and mineral (or “multinutrient”) supplement on memory recall at one year (but not later time points) and is equivalent to a training effect where you get better at taking a test the more times you do it.</p> <p>It’s also worth noting the study authors received support and funding from commercial companies to undertake the study.</p> <p>While the study authors state they don’t believe background diet quality impacted the results, they didn’t comprehensively assess this. They used a brief <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22513989/">diet quality assessment score</a> only at baseline. Participants may have changed their eating habits during the study, which could then impact the results.</p> <p>Given all participants reported low diet quality scores, an important question is whether giving participants the knowledge, skills and resources to eat more healthily would have a bigger impact on cognition than taking supplements. <!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/208114/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Image credit: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jacques-raubenheimer-1144463">Jacques Raubenheimer</a>, Senior Research Fellow, Biostatistics, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/can-a-daily-multivitamin-improve-your-memory-208114">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Kids dressing up as older people is harmless fun, right? No, it’s ageist, whatever Bluey says

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lisa-mitchell-1143692">Lisa Mitchell</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a></em></p> <p>A child once approached me, hunched over, carrying a vacuum cleaner like a walking stick. In a wobbly voice, he asked: "Do you want to play grannies?"</p> <p>The idea came from the children’s TV show Bluey, which <a href="https://www.facebook.com/ABCKidsCommunity/videos/bluey-grannies/468144817266668/">has</a> <a href="https://www.facebook.com/ABCKidsCommunity/videos/new-bluey-episodes-the-grannies-are-back-abc-kids/371436135028190/">episodes</a>, <a href="https://www.bluey.tv/products/grannies-book/">a book</a>, <a href="https://www.discountmags.com/magazine/bluey-september-1-2023-digital">magazine</a> editions and an <a href="https://www.facebook.com/OfficialBlueyTV/videos/grannies-filter-bluey/5728362390510269/">image filter</a> about dressing up as “grannies”.</p> <p>Children are also dressing up as 100-year-olds to mark their first “100 days of school”, an idea <a href="https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/old-people-s-home-for-five-year-olds-prep-students-don-senior-citizen-attire-20230801-p5dszb.html">gaining popularity</a> <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/education/cardigans-wigs-and-canes-why-kindy-students-are-dressing-up-as-100-year-olds-20230720-p5dpu8.html">in Australia</a>.</p> <p>Is this all just harmless fun?</p> <h2>How stereotypes take hold</h2> <p>When I look at the older people in my life, or the patients I see as a geriatrician, I cannot imagine how to suck out the individual to formulate a “look”.</p> <p>But Google “older person dress-ups” and you will find <a href="https://www.pinterest.com.au/pin/dress-up-like-youre-100-years-old-100thdayofschool--15199717464361356/">Pinterests</a> and <a href="https://www.wikihow.com/Dress-Up-Like-an-Old-Person#:%7E:text=Dress%20in%20comfortable%2C%20loose%2Dfitting,older%20people%20may%20wear%20include%3A&amp;text=Oversized%20sweatshirts">Wikihow pages</a> doing just that.</p> <p>Waistcoats, walking sticks, glasses and hunched backs are the key. If you’re a “granny”, don’t forget a <a href="https://www.facebook.com/OfficialBlueyTV/videos/games-you-can-play-at-home-grannies-bluey/645964056227345/">shawl and tinned beans</a>. You can buy “old lady” <a href="https://www.spotlightstores.com/party/costumes-and-accessories/costume-accessories/wigs-hair-accessories/wigs/spartys-kids-old-lady-wig-with-curlers/80578132?gclsrc=aw.ds&amp;gclsrc=aw.ds&amp;gclid=Cj0KCQjw0vWnBhC6ARIsAJpJM6emZHoNxO72pUa80Wc8ihYYiq3AohZ_w72jmuWBBDlficdCMy_rsK8aAj47EALw_wcB">wigs</a> or an “old man” <a href="https://www.bigw.com.au/product/facial-hair-set-old-man-3-pieces/p/305026">moustache and bushy eyebrows</a>.</p> <p>This depiction of how older people look and behave is a stereotype. And if dressing up as an older person is an example, such stereotypes are all around us.</p> <h2>What’s the harm?</h2> <p>There is <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/hypa.12170">some debate</a> about whether stereotyping is intrinsically wrong, and if it is, why. But there is plenty of research about the harms of <em>age</em> stereotypes or ageism. That’s harm to current older people and harm to future older people.</p> <p>The World Health Organization <a href="https://www.who.int/health-topics/ageism#tab=tab_1">defines ageism</a> as: "the stereotypes (how we think), prejudice (how we feel) and discrimination (how we act) towards others or ourselves based on age."</p> <p>Ageism <a href="https://www.who.int/health-topics/ageism#tab=tab_1">contributes to</a> social isolation, reduced health and life expectancy and costs economies <a href="https://academic.oup.com/gerontologist/article/60/1/174/5166947">billions of dollars</a> globally.</p> <p>When it comes to health, the impact of negative stereotypes and beliefs about ageing may be even <a href="https://academic.oup.com/gerontologist/article/60/1/174/5166947">more harmful</a> than the discrimination itself.</p> <p>In laboratory studies, older people perform <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4360754/">worse</a> than expected on tasks such as memory or thinking after being shown negative stereotypes about ageing. This may be due to a “<a href="https://www.simplypsychology.org/stereotype-threat.html">stereotype threat</a>”. This is when a person’s performance is impaired because they are worried about confirming a negative stereotype about the group they belong to. In other words, they perform less well because they’re worried about acting “old”.</p> <p>Another theory is “stereotype embodiment”. This is where people absorb negative stereotypes throughout their life and come to believe decline is an inevitable consequence of ageing. This leads to biological, psychological and physiological changes that <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2927354/">create</a> a self-fulfilling prophecy.</p> <p>I have seen this in my clinic with people who do well, until they realise they’re an older person – a birthday, a fall, a revelation when they look in the mirror. Then, they stop going out, stop exercising, stop seeing their friends.</p> <p>Evidence for “stereotype embodiment” comes from studies that show people with more negative views about ageing are more likely to have higher levels of stress hormones (such as cortisol and C-reactive protein) and are <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7182003/">less likely</a> to engage in health behaviours, such as exercising and eating healthy foods.</p> <p>Younger adults with negative views about ageing are <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2666386/">more likely</a> to have a heart attack up to about 40 years later. People with the most negative attitudes towards ageing have a lower life expectancy by as much as <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12150226/">7.5 years</a>.</p> <p>Children are particularly susceptible to absorbing stereotypes, a process <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2007-09385-010">that starts</a> in early childhood.</p> <h2>Ageism is all around us</h2> <p><a href="https://www.who.int/health-topics/ageism#tab=tab_1">One in two people</a> have ageist views, so tackling ageism is complicated given it is socially acceptable and normalised.</p> <p>Think of all the birthday cards and jokes about ageing or phrases like “geezer” and “old duck”. Assuming a person (including yourself) is “too old” for something. Older people say it is harder to <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-07-06/senior-job-seekers-struggle-to-get-a-foot-in-the-door/102563144">find work</a> and they face discrimination in <a href="https://www.hcnsw.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Ageism-in-Health-Care_final.pdf">health care</a>.</p> <h2>How can we reduce ageism?</h2> <p>We can reduce ageism through laws, policies and education. But we can also reduce it via <a href="https://www.who.int/health-topics/ageism#tab=tab_1">intergenerational contact</a>, where older people and younger people come together. This helps break down the segregation that allows stereotypes to fester. Think of the TV series <a href="https://iview.abc.net.au/show/old-people-s-home-for-4-year-olds">Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds</a> or the follow-up <a href="https://iview.abc.net.au/show/old-people-s-home-for-teenagers">Old People’s Home for Teenagers</a>. More simply, children can hang out with their older relatives, neighbours and friends.</p> <p>We can also challenge a negative view of ageing. What if we allowed kids to imagine their lives as grandparents and 100-year-olds as freely as they view their current selves? What would be the harm in that?<img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/212607/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lisa-mitchell-1143692"><em>Lisa Mitchell</em></a><em>, Geriatrician working in clinical practice. PhD Candidate at The University of Melbourne studying ethics and ageism in health care. Affiliate lecturer, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/kids-dressing-up-as-older-people-is-harmless-fun-right-no-its-ageist-whatever-bluey-says-212607">original article</a>.</em></p>

Retirement Life

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1 in 6 older adults fall victim to impersonation scams

<p>More older adults are likely to fall victim to scams than are currently recognised according to new US research. The problems are global. </p> <div class="copy"> <p>A research team from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, US, says older Americans who aren’t cognitively impeded, are also at risk.  </p> <p>In their study <a href="https://10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.35319" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">published</a> today in <em>JAMA Network Open</em>, the group reports on a behavioural experiment where they targeted 644 adults aged 64-104 in Rush’s Memory and Aging Project – a local scheme that draws on participants from metropolitan Chicago to participate in research – with a pitch mimicking a real-world impersonation scam. </p> <p>The study’s fictitious ‘US Retirement Protection Task Force’ pitched itself to participants as a government social security initiative.  </p> <p>This USRPTF told participants via either post, email or a telephone call there’d been irregular activity on their Medicare or social security file and the inquiry was a routine account security check. As part of this, the fake agency asked participants to call a telephone hotline or login to a provided website to provide their details.  </p> <p>Over two-thirds of the study failed to respond to any attempts to obtain information by the phoney scheme.  </p> <p>The remainder were evenly split by either responding to requests for contact, but expressing scepticism at the authenticity of the USRPTF, or by responding and engaging with the request for information.  </p> <p>Those who were engaged with the request for information, but expressed doubts, were also those with the highest cognitive performance, and lowest proportion of dementia. They were also the most financially literate participants, while those who provided their details had the lowest literacy. </p> <p>Those who provided details were also found to have the lowest scam awareness of all participants.  </p> <p>Among this group, 1 in 10 willingly provided personal information and 1 in 5 provided details of their social security number.  </p> <p>“If extrapolated to a population level, these numbers are astounding and suggest that a very large number of older adults are at risk of victimisation,” the authors say. </p> <p>They also note that, given the use of a fictitious US government organisation name, the number of people vulnerable to well-organised scams is likely much higher.  </p> <p>Last year, the US National Council on Aging reported 92,371 older Americans were defrauded of a total of US$1.7 billion. Most were victims of government department impersonation, sweepstakes and robocall scams. Often such scams will simply demand payment while ‘spoofing’ the phone number of a government agency to add the veil of legitimacy. </p> <p>It’s a similar story around the world. This year, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission found Australians lost a record $3.1 billion last year, mostly via phone scams. Australians over 65 years of age accounted for a quarter of losses and reports.  </p> <p>The UK’s Action Fraud initiative found Britons lost about ₤2.35 billion in the 2020/21 financial year, with those aged 50-69 most susceptible to falling victim.  </p> <div> <p align="center"><noscript data-spai="1">&amp;lt;img decoding="async" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-198773" src="https://cdn.shortpixel.ai/spai/q_lossy+ret_img+to_auto/cosmosmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/09/Issue-100-embed.jpg" data-spai-egr="1" alt="Subscribe to our quarterly print magazine" width="600" height="154" title="1 in 6 older adults fall victim to impersonation scams 2"&amp;gt;</noscript></p> </div> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em><a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/people/society/1-in-6-older-adults-fall-victim-to-impersonation-scams/">This article</a> was originally published on <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com">Cosmos Magazine</a> and was written by <a href="null">Cosmos</a>. </em></p> </div>

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London police receive even older Russell Brand sexual assault allegation

<p>London police have announced that they are investigating a sexual assault allegation involving British comedian and actor Russell Brand. This revelation comes in the wake of media reports that have emerged, detailing accusations <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/news/news/bbc-responds-to-damning-russell-brand-allegations" target="_blank" rel="noopener">made by four women against Brand</a> for incidents that allegedly occurred between 2006 and 2013, including a rape allegation linked to his Los Angeles residence.</p> <p>Brand, known for his comedy and acting career, has vehemently denied all allegations, asserting that all of his sexual relationships were consensual. The comedian gained fame as a commentator on the reality show <em>Big Brother</em> and subsequently played significant roles in Hollywood films such as <em>Forgetting Sarah Marshall</em> in 2008 and <em>Get Him to the Greek</em> in 2010. He was also briefly married to singer Katy Perry.</p> <p>In recent times, Brand has gained prominence as a political commentator and video blogger, although some of his content has featured COVID-19 conspiracy theories and misinformation regarding vaccines.</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/reel/CxOooOsIGXd/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/reel/CxOooOsIGXd/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Russell Brand (@russellbrand)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>The police announcement specifically referenced a new allegation stemming from an incident in central London's Soho neighbourhood in 2003. The Metropolitan Police stated that they are in contact with the woman who made this allegation and are providing her with support. They have also reached out to <em>The Sunday Times</em> and Channel 4, urging anyone who believes they have been a victim of a sexual offence to come forward and report it.</p> <p>In response to these allegations, three of Brand's former employers, including the BBC, Channel 4, and Banijay UK production company, have initiated their own investigations into the claims.</p> <p>Consequently, Brand's upcoming stand-up performance at the Theatre Royal Windsor, scheduled for Tuesday, has been cancelled, with tour promoters announcing the postponement of additional shows in light of the ongoing situation.</p> <p>Talent agency Tavistock Wood has severed ties with the comedian, citing feeling "horribly misled" by him, and Bluebird publisher has decided to "pause" future collaborations with Brand.</p> <p><em>Image: Instagram</em></p>

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Taking more than 5 pills a day? ‘Deprescribing’ can prevent harm – especially for older people

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emily-reeve-1461339">Emily Reeve</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jacinta-l-johnson-1441348">Jacinta L Johnson</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/janet-sluggett-146318">Janet Sluggett</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kate-ohara-1462183">Kate O'Hara</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-newcastle-1060">University of Newcastle</a></em></p> <p>People are living longer and with more <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/older-people/older-australia-at-a-glance/contents/health-functioning/health-disability-status">chronic health conditions</a> – including heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and dementia – than ever before. As societies continue to grow older, one pressing concern is the use of multiple medications, a phenomenon known as <a href="https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/patient-safety/who-uhc-sds-2019-11-eng.pdf">polypharmacy</a>.</p> <p>About <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.5694/mja2.50244">1 million older Australians</a> experience polypharmacy and this group is increasing. They may wake up in the morning and pop a pill for their heart, then another one or two to control blood pressure, a couple more if they have diabetes, a vitamin pill and maybe one for joint pain.</p> <p>Polypharmacy is usually <a href="https://www.safetyandquality.gov.au/sites/default/files/2021-04/fourth_atlas_2021_-_6.1_polypharmacy_75_years_and_over.pdf">defined</a> as taking five or more different medications daily. In aged care homes, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.archger.2022.104849">90% of residents</a> take at least five regular medications every single day. That can put their health at risk with increased costs for them and the health system.</p> <h2>Adding up over time</h2> <p>As people age, the effects of medications can change. Some medications, which were once beneficial, might start to do more harm than good or might not be needed anymore. About <a href="https://www.psa.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Medicine-Safety-Aged-Care-WEB-RES1.pdf">half of older Australians</a> are taking a medication where the likely harms outweigh the potential benefits.</p> <p>While polypharmacy is sometimes necessary and helpful in managing multiple health conditions, it can lead to unintended consequences.</p> <p><a href="https://www.nps.org.au/living-with-multiple-medicines/costs">Prescription costs</a> can quickly add up. Taking multiple medications can be difficult to manage particularly when there are specific instructions to crush them or take them with food, or when extra monitoring is needed. There is also a risk of <a href="https://www.nps.org.au/consumers/understanding-drug-interactions">drug interactions</a>.</p> <p>Medications bought “over the counter” without a prescription, such as vitamins, herbal medications or pain relievers, can also cause <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.5694/mja11.10698">problems</a>. Some people might take an over-the-counter medication each day due to previous advice, but they might not need it anymore. Just like prescription medications, over-the-counter medications add to the overall burden and cost of polypharmacy as well as drug interactions and side effects.</p> <p>Unfortunately, the more medications you take, the more likely you are to have <a href="https://www.nps.org.au/consumers/managing-your-medicines#risks-of-taking-multiple-medicines">problems with your medications</a>, a reduced quality of life and increased risk of falls, hospitalisation and death. Each year, <a href="https://www.psa.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/PSA-Medicine-Safety-Report.pdf">250,000 Australians</a> are admitted to hospital due to medication-related harms, many of which are preventable. For example, use of multiple medications like sleeping pills, strong pain relievers and some blood pressure medications can cause drowsiness and dizziness, potentially resulting in a <a href="https://betterhealthwhileaging.net/preventing-falls-10-types-of-medications-to-review/">fall</a> and broken bones.</p> <h2>Prescribing and deprescribing are both important</h2> <p>Ensuring safe and effective use of medications involves both prescribing, and <a href="https://www.racgp.org.au/clinical-resources/clinical-guidelines/key-racgp-guidelines/view-all-racgp-guidelines/silver-book/part-a/deprescribing">deprescribing</a> them.</p> <p><a href="https://www.australiandeprescribingnetwork.com.au/474-2/">Deprescribing</a> is a process of stopping (or reducing the dose of) medications that are no longer required, or for which the risk of harm outweighs the benefits for the person taking them.</p> <p>The process involves reviewing all the medications a person takes with a health-care professional to identify medications that should be stopped.</p> <p>Think of deprescribing as spring cleaning your medicine cabinet. Just like how you tidy up your house and get rid of objects that are causing clutter without being useful, deprescribing tidies up your medication list to keep only the ones truly required.</p> <h2>But care is needed</h2> <p>The process of deprescribing requires close monitoring and, for many medications, slow reductions in dose (tapering).</p> <p>This helps the body adjust gradually and can prevent sudden, unpleasant changes. Deprescribing is often done on a trial basis and medication can be restarted if symptoms come back. Alternatively, a safer medication, or non-drug treatment may be started in its place.</p> <p>Studies show deprescribing is a safe process when managed by a health-care professional, both for people living at <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11606-020-06089-2">home</a> and those in <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jamda.2018.10.026">residential aged care</a>. You should always talk with your care team before stopping any medications.</p> <p>Deprescribing needs to be a team effort involving the person, their health-care team and possibly family or other carers. Shared decision-making throughout the process empowers the person taking medications to have a say in their health care. The team can work together to clarify treatment goals and decide which medications are still serving the person well and which can be safely discontinued.</p> <p>If you or a loved one take multiple medications you might be eligible for a free visit from a pharmacist (<a href="https://www.nps.org.au/assets/NPS/pdf/NPSMW2390_Anticholinergics_HMR_Factsheet.pdf">a Home Medicines Review</a>) to help you get the best out of your medications.</p> <h2>What’s next?</h2> <p>Health care has traditionally focused on prescribing medications, with little focus on when to stop them. Deprescribing is not happening as often as it should. <a href="https://www.australiandeprescribingnetwork.com.au/">Researchers</a> are working hard to develop tools, resources and service models to support deprescribing in the community.</p> <p>Health-care professionals may think older adults are not open to deprescribing, but about <a href="https://academic.oup.com/biomedgerontology/article/77/5/1020/6352400">eight out of ten people</a> are willing to stop one or more of their medications. That said, of course some people may have concerns. If you have been taking a medication for a long time, you might wonder why you should stop or whether your health could get worse if you do. These are important questions to ask a doctor or pharmacist.</p> <p>We need more <a href="https://shpa.org.au/news-advocacy/MedsAware">public awareness</a> about polypharmacy and deprescribing to turn the tide of increasing medication use and related harms. <!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/211424/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emily-reeve-1461339">Emily Reeve</a>, Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Medicine Use and Safety , <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jacinta-l-johnson-1441348">Jacinta L Johnson</a>, Senior Lecturer in Pharmacy Practice, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/janet-sluggett-146318">Janet Sluggett</a>, Enterprise Fellow, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kate-ohara-1462183">Kate O'Hara</a>, PhD student, Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-newcastle-1060">University of Newcastle</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/taking-more-than-5-pills-a-day-deprescribing-can-prevent-harm-especially-for-older-people-211424">original article</a>.</em></p>

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