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World Hearing Forum

World Hearing Forum

In July 2018, WHO announced the creation of the World Hearing Forum, a global network of stakeholders promoting ear and hearing care worldwide. The aim of this forum is to...

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Needs Based Planning for Long Term Care Verses Political Imperative

Long-term care must be designed to facilitate the dignity, autonomy and personal wishes of older people while keeping them connected to their community and social networks. A recent study featured by CBC News shows that there is an increasing trend in declining wage, staff shortage and job dissatisfaction among Ontario, Canada’s personal support workers (PSW). "We want to make sure we're treating our elderly people with care, as human beings, and not as parts on an assembly line," said Brian Dijkema, co-author of the study. Not all countries currently have fully integrated systems to support long-term care – far from the truth.  The level of economic development or the proportion of care-dependent older people within their populations can be a limiting factor in achieving an integrated system to support long-term care.  Without integration there is less emphasis on the planning and development of services to support older people in their location and residence of choice. Promoting new ways of thinking about long-term care, including shifting to a central objective of optimizing functional ability should be the priority for all long-term care systems.  All countries need a fully integrated system of long-term care.  This may imply the development of a national plan and at a minimum, the plan should outline the services to be provided, who will provide them and how these services will be financed.  Serious consideration must be given to, how universal access will be facilitated, how quality will be ensured, and how the system will be coordinated to ensure the provision of integrated and comprehensive long-term care. Comprehensive planning based on population demographics must be adopted if services are to be situated in communities where they are most needed. No longer can needs be based on electoral aspirations of politicians such as exist in countries like Canada for example. IFA believes that governments must develop integrated systems that support long-term care provision based on need, with defined planning ratio benchmarks that ensure both, the allocation of residential and community care places.  Care provision and quality must be measurable across all service settings. Furthermore, long-term care provision must include the development of programs and services specific to the needs of informal/unpaid caregivers.  Research shows that 83% of long-term care provided to older adults coming from family members or other unpaid helpers, and they need help. To ensure services are developed and implemented where they are needed, governments must adopt needs-based planning ratios across defined electoral regions that identify where older people live.  Such ratios should be developed based on a regions’ population aged 70 years and over.  Long-term care provision must include formal residential care facilities and direct care services into the homes or places of residence for our older citizens. Those with special needs should be defined as people from Indigenous communities; people from non-English speaking backgrounds; people who live in rural and remote areas; those with special needs such dementia; and people who are financially or socially disadvantaged.  When considering planning ratios for indigenous communities, consideration must be given to life expectancy of the population. Recommended planning ratio provision in developed countries is 125 places per 1,000 people over the age of 70 with 55 of these places being allocated to community packages of care delivered to an older person’s place of residence and 70 places for the provision of residential and/or nursing home care. Adopting such a model would greatly enhance service provision when you consider that in Canada the average daily subsidy paid by government is approximately $150.00 per day in a nursing home care setting.  Extending subsidies to the provision of home-based package care at the same level could support 2-3 older people at home.  This would not only improve service provision to a greater number of individuals but minimize the number of inappropriate admissions to nursing homes. “Many older people in nursing homes in Canada could actually live in the community with a specially designed package of services rather than be inappropriately placed in a setting that does not help maintain and improve their functional ability” said Mr. GregShaw, Director International and Corporate Relations at IFA.

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You Heard It Here First: Hearing Is Critical to Healthy Ageing

A recent Washington Post article reports that hearing loss can increase risk of dementia, depression and falls.  Why? One theory is that hearing loss can cause the brain to strain to hear or understand what someone is saying at the expense of other brain functions. A second theory points to the high rates of social isolation associated with hearing loss, which has been linked to a range of health issues including Alzheimer’s disease and depression.  For more information on the link between hearing loss and brain health, contact IFA Expert Prof. Perminder Sachdev, Co-Director the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing in Australia. In addition, consider attending the IFA 15th Global Conference on Ageing “Rights Matter”, where presentations will be made on the key sub-theme “maximizing senses”. A few months ago, the IFA was proud to join the World Hearing Forum, a global network of stakeholders promoting ear and hearing care worldwide, with the aim of promoting and supporting the implementation of the 2017 World Health Assembly resolution on the prevention of deafness and hearing loss. From 4-5 December 2019, the IFA will participate in the first World Hearing Forum Membership Assembly, at the WHO headquarters in Geneva. The main objectives of the Membership Assembly are to: ·        Align members with the vision and mission of the World Hearing Forum; · Establish Working Groups and Steering Committee for the Forum; · Propose advocacy action plan for the next two years; · Serve as a platform for exchange of views among members; and · Explore possibilities for resource mobilization. Keep watch on IFAs social media for the next steps resulting from the World Hearing Forum, as IFA strives to improve functional ability for older people by raising awareness on the importance of hearing screening, health promotion, and hearing rehabilitation.

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Warning signs of diabetes in your eyes

World Diabetes Day on the 14 November is a time to bring awareness to the condition and its complications while also highlighting latest medical advancements and good practices.  Diabetes is known to be a major cause of disability and illness around the world, with devastating social and economic consequences for the individuals as well as society. Diabetic retinopathy (DR) – a complication of diabetes caused by damage to blood vessels in retina – can lead to vision loss and blindness. The good news is that over 50% of type 2 diabetes is preventable with early detection of the risk and lifestyle improvements.  Presented at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) in Spain this year was a study that demonstrated the power of science and humanity. Researchers from the Medical School at the University of Exeter used a newly developed biomicroscope to measure the autofluorescence in eyes which reflects the level of advanced glycation end-products (AGEs). High levels of AGEs, detected among people with type 2 diabetes and prediabetes, can contribute to several diseases, including visual complications of diabetes such as retinopathy.   Being able to predict a person’s risk of developing diabetes also provides an opportunity to intervene and prevent long-term consequences. "Lens autofluorescence could be a robust marker of long-term diabetes control predicting future complication risks,” said Dr Mitra Tavakoli, lead author of the study. Blindness due to diabetic retinopathy has serious and life altering consequences to a person’s role and responsibilities as well as identity in family and society. Although early screening and management has been shown to avoid major damage occurs in eyes, individuals diagnosed with diabetes often do not have regular and routine eye exams.   Education, awareness and self management are several key principles for those with diabetes and the associated vision complications. The IFA together with IDF, IAPB and the Vision Academy are working to shape and influence policy to improve the vision health of people with diabetes through the DR Barometer Community. The Community is a collaborative network that brings together health care professionals, patient advocates, individuals living with diabetes and experts from around the world. Join the DR Barometer Community today and contact IFA expert Prof. Hans-Peter Hammes, who is recognized globally as preeminent in the treatment of diabetes and its complications.

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The IFA brings together global experts and expertise to influence and shape age-related policy to improve the lives and to better all of society.

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The IFA has a long established and wide-ranging network of member organizations around the world. The network extends to over 75 countries covering every region. Together these organizations represent over 80 million older people.

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