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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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Life Course Immunization: More Than Just Flu Season

Immunization is recognized globally as an effective means of preventing and minimizing the impact of infectious diseases such as influenza, pneumonia and shingles. An article in the Press Telegram “Senior Living: Scheduling your immunizations as you age” offers an informed perspective on the importance of vaccination throughout a person’s life course. Dr. David Michalik, a pediatric infectious disease specialist in Long Beach, California said “vaccinations that you received as a child also can wear off over time, requiring revaccination or a booster shot to boost your immune system’s ‘memory.’” In the absence of revaccination or booster shots in later life and as the immune system “memory” declines, older adults are more susceptible to vaccine preventable diseases. This is particularly amplified in the presence of behavioural risk factors like smoking and/or chronic conditions including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or respiratory ailments.  Although local vaccination schedules vary considerably, Dr. Michalik provided a general statement of recommended vaccinations for adults in the local situe: - 50 years or over: annual influenza vaccination, a Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) booster every 10 years, and two doses of the shingles vaccine; - 60 years or over: pneumonia vaccination; and - 65 years or over: annual high-dose flu vaccine can provide additional protection and is specifically developed for this age group. Global efforts to increase vaccination rates over the past few decades have resulted in a decrease in mortality of communicable diseases from 33% in 1990, to 25% in 2010. While European Union public health policies recommend at least a 75% rate of influenza vaccination among high-risk groups all countries, with the exception of the United Kingdom, are well below the target. In a report from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), under 50% of older French adults aged over 65 years reported being vaccinated against influenza in the 2014-15 season. An IFA led multidisciplinary expert meeting “Vaccination in France: Changing the Public Perception” in Lyon in December 2019 aimed to reconcile perspectives from important stakeholder groups in the current vaccination discourse and identify challenges and opportunities for improving participation in vaccination campaigns. Prof. Jean-Pierre Michel of Geneva University’s Medical School reported during the meeting that effective adult vaccination schedules can support maintenance of functional ability and help prevent 2.5 million deaths annually due to communicable diseases. An underestimated benefit of both influenza and pneumonia immunization is the growing evidence of a reduction in cardiovascular complications including stroke and heart failure in adults over 65 years of age.  To learn more about secondary benefits of vaccination and related emerging research areas in cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases, contact IFA Experts Prof. Jean-Pierre Michel, Professor of Geriatric Medicine in Geneva, Switzerland, Prof. Catherine Weil-Olivier, Professor of Pediatrics at Paris Diderot University, or Prof. Antoni Torres, Professor of Medicine and Head of the Respiratory Intensive Care Unit at Barcelona University’s Hospital Clinic. In addition, consider following the @Vaccines4Life Twitter page, and being involved with the World Coalition on Adult Vaccination, where stakeholders collaborate on a common agenda around a life course approach to vaccination, with special attention to later life.

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Ageism in the Advertising Industry – Older People are being Ignored

In the advertising industry, where campaigns against racism, sexism and discrimination are tremendously common, ageism in its practices remains a huge issue. "It's a Peter Pan industry”, says Bensman, an Italian, Florida-based senior writer who turned 57 this year. Fewer people rise to the top and the others just burn out and get let go. According to AdAge, in 2017, the majority (63%) of professionals in advertising, public relations and related services were under 45 years of age. 79 % employees in the advertising and marketing sector agree that the sector comes across as ageist.[i] Rory Sutherland, Ogilvy’s Vice Chairman, explains this issue as below.“Advertising, by failing to ally itself to any recognisable science or body of knowledge, does not really pay a premium for experience. Every argument, every point of view, has to be defended from scratch. This becomes increasingly frustrating with time.” [ii] It does not stop there. In 2018, AARP analyzed a random sample of more than 1,000 images taken from news pages, social media channels and blogs. Although 46% of the U.S. adult population is aged 50 and older, only 15% of the images contain members of that age group.An additional myth perpetuated throughout society is that older people spend their money quite prudently. This misconception is debunked in a recent report from Nielsen,[iii] which explains that older people make up 49% of sales for consumer goods and services.  In fact, older people are the most valuable generation in the history of marketing, yet are ignored as only 5% of all advertising are targeted to adults aged 35-64. If only 5% is targeted towards this age group those over the age of 65, who arguably have the greatest spending power in our history are being completely overlooked by the industry.The world needs experienced, creative, older people in the advertising industry. Brands need to target not only a younger audience a greater priority in needed for older consumers. Ultimately, we need to achieve balance. Balance in the work place, balance in the audiences and, most of all, balance in our approaches to advertising and marketing. The IFA currently partner with WHO to host a series of webinars that are part of an ongoing dialogue to bring to knowledge, new ideas and innovation around age-friendly environments and to end ageism.The IFA also works alongside intergovernmental agencies and its members and supporters to combat ageism by: viewing all organisational priorities through the lens of equity; representation at the UN Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing; membership in the Global Alliance for the Rights of Older People; alignment of priorities with the WHO and UN; and committed to the central theme of “Rights Matter” at the IFA’s 15th Global Conference on Ageing (1-3 November 2020).[1] https://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/why-ageism-adlands-next-frontier/1416455 [1] https://www.directnewideas.com/magazine/?id=1352 [1] https://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/report/2012/introducing-boomers--marketing-s-most-valuable-generation/

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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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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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