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Newsletter - February 2018

From Minister for Seniors Tracey Martin

Tracey Martin

In mid-January I visited a facility taking a new, positive approach to caring for people with dementia.

The CARE Village is a community-owned charitable trust that opened in September 2017 and provides aged residential care with a difference. Their vision is to give people with dementia as normal a life as possible, based on research that shows people with dementia are much happier when they live in a home-like environment.

My grandfather suffered from dementia. At one stage he was placed in a locked hospital ward. Visiting him was distressing, both for him and for us. The ward he was in also catered for people with other mental illnesses. The level of stress on the patients, staff and those visiting was obvious. The feeling of those visits has stayed with me for a long time.

What a contrast it was to visit The CARE Village, and to pop in to the homes, with smoked fish pie being prepared for lunch in one and bacon and egg pie in another. The atmosphere was calm and the residents were able to spend time in the garden, plant flowers, even build a few paths. According to the managers they've seen a reduction in stress and patient medications.

Around 62,300 New Zealanders live with dementia and 13,800 live in residential care. These numbers will nearly triple by 2050. The CARE Village gives us an opportunity to evaluate the potential of this model and its long term sustainability.

Government introduces new Winter Energy Payment

 

Help to stay warm over winter

The Government has announced a new Winter Energy Payment.

"The Winter Energy Payment is an investment in Seniors and others, to help them stay healthy over the winter months," says Minister for Seniors Tracey Martin.

"What's great is that you don't need to apply for the payment. Everyone getting NZ Super or the Veteran's Pension will receive it automatically".

The Winter Energy payment will be paid with your NZ Super or Veteran's Pension.

The rate for single people (with no dependants) will be $20.46 a week, and couples or people with dependants will get $31.82 a week.

Payments will be made from 1 July to 30 September in 2018, and 1 May to 1 October in 2019.

People who get a Residential Care Subsidy or a Residential Support Subsidy are not eligible for the Winter Energy Payment.

Not everyone will want to receive this payment therefore you can choose to opt out. If your circumstances change you can then choose to opt back in.

The Winter Energy Payment doesn't affect your eligibility for other support such as the Disability Allowance, Accommodation Supplement, Temporary Additional Support or Childcare Assistance.

If you travel overseas for four weeks or more your Winter Energy Payment will stop. Once you return to New Zealand you can restart payments by contacting Work and Income.

For more information visit www.workandincome.govt.nz and search for Families Package.

Be safe on your mobility scooter

Mobility scooters are an increasingly common sight on our footpaths and in our shopping areas. Scooters are practical and fun, but you might not know that scooter drivers are at higher risk of a serious accident.

Before you buy a scooter, it's important to have the skills to drive it safely. The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) suggests you consider your ability to judge distances, your eyesight, your hearing, and whether you can handle a vehicle safely. If in doubt, check with your doctor before you buy one.

Whether you want to buy a mobility scooter or you already have one, it's a good idea to get trained on how to use it safely. Your scooter dealer will have details about training near you.

For more information on using your mobility scooter safely, visit: www.nzta.govt.nz and search for mobility scooter safety.

For a safer journey follow these tips from
New Zealand Police

  • wear bright or high-visibility fluorescent clothes
  • to keep visible, attach a flag to your scooter (make sure it's at least a metre above the ground)
  • use rear vision mirrors to watch for hazards behind you
  • listen and watch for vehicles coming out of driveways
  • make sure you use your indicators and in bad weather, use your headlights
  • on the footpath, don't travel faster than pedestrians
  • slow down when manoeuvring sharp corners or slopes
  • don't let anyone stand or sit on your scooter while you're driving it
  • where possible use a pedestrian crossing to cross the road, and only cross when you can see the road is clear.

Be safe on your mobility scooter

Elder Abuse. IT'S NOT OK

Stroke FAST campaign

Recognise the symptoms of stroke

Strokes are the third largest killer in New Zealand, after heart disease and cancer. Each year around 9,000 people have a stroke – the equivalent of one person every hour. It's important to get help immediately. It's not something you can wait to see your GP about, or hope the symptoms go away. Patients can receive life-saving treatment — as long as they get to hospital quickly.

You can assess your own risk of a stroke using a free, New Zealand-made app from AUT University called the Stroke Riskometer. Go to www.strokeriskometer.com to download it for your phone.

Risk factors for a stroke

  • high blood pressure
  • high blood cholesterol
  • diabetes
  • smoking
  • high alcohol intake
  • irregular heartbeat
  • lack of physical activity
  • family history
  • increasing age
  • being overweight or obese
Diane Maxwell, Retirement Commissioner

You can download the Stroke Riskometer on your device to assess the chance of suffering a stroke. Find out how at www.strokeriskometer.com

Community gardening in the city

With more and more New Zealanders living in the city, many don't have the opportunity to get out in the garden. The community garden movement offers an opportunity for city-dwellers to flex their green fingers.

Giving a new lease of life to otherwise unused land, the gardens offer a place where people can grow their own fresh produce.

For Murray Robinson, a community garden isn't simply for growing fresh fruit and vegetables, it's a space to learn and create. At 76, Mr Robinson describes himself as "90 percent retired". He tries to get to the Miramar Heights Community Gardens in Wellington at least two or three times a week.

"Every community garden is different," says Murray.

"Ours lets members choose if they want their own plot or if they want to use community plots that are available to everyone".

The popularity of community gardens is now so strong that there's a garden in every major New Zealand city. Community gardens are ideal for people who don't have access to a garden or space to grow their own produce. They become a

community hub where people from all walks of life get together and share their gardening knowledge.

"I love seeing other gardening styles and discussing that with a wide range of people," Murray says.

"Our gardeners range from families with young children, to older folk like me, but the one thing that never changes is how the group accepts people and new ways of doing things".

You can find a community garden near you on your council website or Facebook page.

Murray Robinson

Staying SunSmart this summer

As we make the most of the beautiful summer weather it's important to remember the impact that too much sun can have on our bodies.

New Zealanders are at a higher risk of developing skin cancer due to higher levels of UV radiation and lower ozone levels. The rate of skin cancer is increasing across most ages. Statistics NZ found that the largest increase was in people aged 65 or over.

The Cancer Society recommends you protect your skin from the sun and avoid getting sunburnt to reduce your risk of skin cancer, so be SunSmart and ‘Slip, Slop, Slap and Wrap'.

It's also important to check your body regularly for new moles or a change in size, shape or colour of existing moles.

Melanoma NZ suggests checking your entire body, including skin that isn't normally exposed to the sun such as in between your toes and on the soles of your feet. You can use the ABCDE system as a guide. If you can't give yourself a thorough skin check or you notice any irregularities go and see your GP.

Diane Maxwell, Retirement Commissioner

ABCDE system for checking moles

Asymmetry: Two halves of the mole are different from one another

Border: The edges of the mole are poorly defined. It is ragged, notched, blurred or an irregular shape

Colour: The colour is uneven with shades of black, brown and tan. Melanoma may also be white, grey, red, pink or blue

Different: The mole stands out from other marks on the body and is noticeably larger. Melanomas are usually bigger than the end of a pencil (6mm)

Evolving: Any change in growth? New or elevated?

Note that not all melanoma lesions show these characteristics. If you're concerned about a particular mole please see your GP.

The changing face of aged care

A pilot programme in Rotorua is exploring new pathways for the care of people with dementia.

The CARE Village design replicates a small-scale New Zealand town. It has 13 separate houses, each staffed by an individual caregiver. The houses are themed, country, classic, contempory and middle New Zealand. Residents choose the style they're most comfortable with and live with like-minded others.

The CARE Village Chief Executive Therese Jeffs says after visiting the Dutch dementia Village, De Hogeweky, she knew the way aged care was being delivered in New Zealand had to change.

"I saw it with my own eyes, smelt and felt it. It was very emotional. I totally embraced the alternative philosophy of care because I could see how happy the residents were".

Therese Jeffs says institutional care isn't working for many older people. "Everything is taken away from you when you go into care. People lose their independence and it's boring".

"The new living arrangements at The CARE Village give people freedom to move around within the grounds and come and go as they please. They also love the fact they can do things like cooking and gardening".

"Residents with dementia who haven't spoken for a long time are now vocalising and engaging. One woman who hadn't recognised her husband for 18 months ran to the door when he was visiting and gave him a cuddle shortly after moving into her new home".

The Care Village

"The CARE Village is a model for future elder care in Aotearoa," Therese says.

"The Ministry of Health have put a lot of time and effort into making this happen. It's been really hard work getting here and I couldn't have done it without the help of fabulous staff. We're in the right waka moving in the right direction. When I look at the residents I know this was absolutely the right thing to do".

The CARE Village is a community-owned, not-for-profit charitable trust and a three year pilot supported by the Ministry of Health. When it's completed the facilities will include a café, hairdresser and clubrooms.

If you'd like to know more about the CARE Village visit www.thecareVillage.co.nz.

Retirement Commissioner

It's time to talk love and money. Not because Valentine's Day is near, but because dating scams are on the rise. These scams often target older New Zealanders who may be widowed, feel isolated and who have savings or a home they can borrow against.

My team has dealt with men and women who thought they found love after signing up to an online dating website, but realised too late that the whole thing was a scam. The photos, the phone calls, the love — the person they'd fallen for never existed.

One woman lost nearly $600,000 in just four months. Loneliness can be brutal, particularly after years of marriage and lots of attention from another person, particularly someone who shares your interests and seems to care so much, can be wonderful. You want so badly for it to be real that any niggling doubts get pushed to the back of your mind.

The stories behind the request for money are usually that something has happened, the person is in crisis and they need your help, that they have money to repay you but for some reason they can't access it.

Diane Maxwell, Retirement Commissioner

Sometimes they supply supporting documents, which are very convincing but fake.

Rule of thumb, if anyone you meet online asks for money, say no. The people behind these scams are ruthless; they work in gangs and make millions of dollars. They don't care that they leave their victims financially broken and heartbroken. So let's stop them getting their hands on New Zealanders' hard earned savings by spreading the word about what's happening, and how we can prevent it.

Predict falls before they happen

Predict falls before they happen

Every two years Callaghan Innovation runs a competition where innovators and entrepreneurs submit a piece of technology that focusses on specific themes. In 2017 competitors were challenged to create a piece of wearable technology that helped New Zealanders to "Live Healthier, Work Safer and Play Smarter".

When Sheldon Nunes and Nick Mertens decided to enter the competition, the decision of what technology to create was easy. Sheldon's grandmother had recently had a fall.

"While she didn't have much in the way of physical injuries we noticed her confidence started to decline, as well as her health in general.

So when the competition came around, we were pretty keen to design something to prevent falls from happening in the first place".

Sheldon and Nick created the FallCast, a smart device that's placed inside the user's shoe. The FallCast gathers data on the way they walk. It tracks patterns and changes in behaviour, and can predict a fall up to three weeks in advance. When it detects an issue an alert is sent to the user, their family or a caregiver, allowing them to take precautions and prevent the fall happening.

Mertens says the biggest lesson they learnt was the importance of working closely with their user group. "We spent a lot of time talking to older people about their daily lives and history with falls so we could design something they'd be comfortable using".

Nunes and Mertens made it to the top 10 of the competition. "While we didn't win the grand prize, we're still very keen to keep going with this project and turn it into a fully-fledged product" said Mertens.

If you're interested in providing feedback or trialling the device you can contact Sheldon and Nick at info@quoralis.com. If you'd like to know more about the work that they are doing you can visit their website www.quoralis.com.

Having problems with your telecommunications provider?

If you have problems with your mobile phone, internet or telecommunications provider, help is at hand.

The Telecommunications Dispute Resolution (TDR) provides an independent, impartial, and free complaint resolution service.

If your telecommunications company is part of the scheme (and most of them are) you can use the service, whether your complaint is about your bill, a specific product or service.

But first you must have made a formal complaint to your telecommunications provider and given them the opportunity to resolve your issue. If you're still not happy or they haven't responded within six weeks, TDR may be able to help.

TDR can handle any claim with a total value of up to $15,000. To make a complaint you must be the account holder, or authorised to work on their behalf.

TDR will work with both you and the company to try to reach a settlement. If that's unsuccessful, TDR will make a decision about the dispute. If you're unhappy with the decision you can still take your complaint to the Disputes Tribunal or through the court system.

If you want to know more or see if your telecommunications provider is part of the scheme, visit www.tdr.org.nz or call free 0508 98 98 98.

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SuperGold Card special offers

Check out the latest special offers for our super seniors through the SuperSeniors website.

Tell us what you think

We want to keep enhancing the value of the SuperGold Card. We'd welcome your ideas on how we can do that and what discounts you'd find useful.

Please email your suggestions to: information@supergold.govt.nz.

SuperGold New Zealand Government Office for Seniors