Older Aussies not doing enough for their health

Older Australians could be doing more to safeguard their health.

From vaccinations to diet practices, older Australians could be doing more to safeguard their health. This is the message from several health organisations and research institutions this week, including the Cancer Council and Australian National University (ANU).

Australians are living longer, healthier lives than ever before. However, according to Lung Foundation Australia member Associate Professor Lucy Morgan, this won’t make them immune to some very serious health risks. This is particularly relevant for older Australians, who may not realise that their age alone makes them more vulnerable to illnesses such as pneumococcal pneumonia, which can be passed on to grandchildren.

“We are seeing a rise of a generation of healthy, fit and fabulous Australians in their mid-60s who love to travel and care for their grandchildren. They don't realise that developing pneumococcal pneumonia could change all of that,” said Professor Morgan.

Being vaccinated against pneumococcal pneumonia could add five years to the lives of older Australian aged between 65 and 74. Despite repeated campaigns to raise awareness, however, Professor Morgan said the vaccination rate remains low, with two-thirds of older Australians going without vaccinations and 40 per cent unaware that a vaccination is available.

But older Australians aren’t just falling short of vaccination expectations. Professor Emily Banks, lead researcher of a study at ANU, said that data from an Australian Bureau of Statistics national survey reveals that one in five Aussies (20 per cent) aged 45–74 are at high risk of heart attack or stroke within five years.

Additionally, the research findings reveal that almost 1 million Aussies aren’t receiving the currently recommended medicines that would lower blood pressure and cholesterol and “more than halve the chances of having a heart attack or stroke in the future”.

The Heart Foundation’s Chief Medical Advisor Professor Garry Jennings called the findings “a wake-up call” for the community, health organisations and the government. Older Australians are being asked to implement lifestyle and dietary changes and undergo routine risk assessments.

“It’s really important that Australians aged 45 years and older, or 35 if Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, see their doctor for a cardiovascular risk assessment,” said Professor Jennings.

According to an article published by the ANU, “Risk factors include a person's age and sex, whether they smoke, their blood pressure, the balance of good and bad cholesterol in their blood, whether or not they have diabetes and their level of kidney function.”

If all this isn’t enough, a 2014–2015 Victorian Population Health survey found that a mere five per cent of Victorians were meeting the Australian Dietary Guidelines’ suggestion of two serves of fruit and five serves of veggies per day.

“An estimated 1293 cases of bowel cancer would be prevented if Australians were having enough fruit and vegetables and, overall four per cent of cancers would be prevented if people had enough fruit and vegetables,” said the Cancer Council’s dietician Alison Ginn.

Read more at sbs.com.au
Read more at abc.net.au

Opinion: When is enough, enough?

Between criticism of gluten-free diets, the carcinogenic danger of processed meat and controversy about a sugar tax, Australians receive an overabundance of diet and health advice. There is so much (sometimes conflicting) advice that making a judgement call on what will work for you is nearly impossible. Everything you eat will give you cancer and 500 hours of exercise every week just isn’t enough. What do you know about health risks? How can you know what’s good for you?

I believe that most people do actually know what’s good for them. You’ve made it to the age you are now, so surely you know a thing or two about what your body needs? Five per cent of Victorians are following the Australian Dietary Guidelines’ recommendation of two serves of fruit and five serves of veggies per day. I’ll wager that 95 per cent of you reading this experienced guilt in some form or another. But it’s important to remember that with any health advice you receive, you’re only seeing part of the story.

Meet Sally, 59 years old. She gets by eating the recommended two pieces of fruit per day, but she tends to only have three serves of vegies. Still, she’ll take the dog for a walk after work every day and would choose tea over fruit juice. She also cooks dinner at home every night. Considering everything, I still reckon Sally’s doing alright.

Yes, the media feeds us a lot of changing advice about how to manage our health and it can be overwhelming. But the advice we should be listening to is quite simple. It remains the same, despite whatever new health warning or ‘revelation’ spills out from the media.

You already know what this advice is. You’ve heard it a million times before. But let me say it one more time: Eat healthily. Exercise. Drink water. Sleep. Wake up. Repeat.

As a caveat, when it comes to safeguarding your health against specific illnesses, I’d advise following the advice from the relevant health bodies. For example, you can find out more about the pneumococcal pneumonia vaccination at the Lung Foundation.

What do you think? Are we receiving too many mixed messages about what is healthy and unhealthy? Do you feel you’re being given too little credit for being able to manage your own health? What have you found works best for you when trying to stay fit and healthy?

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    COMMENTS

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    particolor
    11th May 2016
    11:16am
    I still haven't been to the Doctor in 15..20 Years ! :-)
    I think He's suffering from Malnutrition by now ! And His Golf Club Membership has Expired !! :-(
    Polly Esther
    11th May 2016
    11:20am
    Good for you, lucky you, blessed you, stay healthy my friend. :-)
    particolor
    11th May 2016
    11:38am
    Thank you Very Much Polly ! I don't know why but I'm never Sick ?? Dunno ? I wish everyone was like it :-) :-)
    MICK
    11th May 2016
    12:08pm
    So obviously not worried about co-payments then. I sort of average around one trip every 2 to 3 years. You deserve a medal for 15 to 20!
    Anonymous
    11th May 2016
    5:26pm
    Or a few iTunes gift cards, at least!
    particolor
    11th May 2016
    5:31pm
    Never heard of them ?? :-)
    particolor
    17th May 2016
    7:39pm
    Just had a lOOk in my Little Black Book Mick, and its longer than 20 years :-) :-)
    Franky
    11th May 2016
    11:37am
    It's the young people that need the information which leads to a healthy lifestyle. We have already learned it over the course of our lives. I would love to see education on staying healthy in school curriculums. The young are our future!
    particolor
    11th May 2016
    11:42am
    They will be OK now in their "Safe Schools" :-) What Rot !!.. We had to fight off the Baddies in the best way we knew ! :-) But their welcome to their Cotton Wool World now ! I'm glad I'm Old !! :-)
    MICK
    11th May 2016
    12:06pm
    Plenty of fat older people who never exercise Franky.
    KSS
    11th May 2016
    1:01pm
    Franky why outsource this responsibility to schools? Its the job of the parents to model good nutrition by what they have in their pantry and on the plate. If the parents are buying fast food and takeaway, or poor nutritional foods (i.e. packet, boxes and snack packs) then no amount of teaching at school will change that. Parents need to put some effort into raising and educating their kids so the kids live long enough to BE our future.
    Rae
    11th May 2016
    2:13pm
    There is a whole curriculum Franky. Personal Development, Health and Physical Education and it covers just about every aspect of physical, mental and emotional development that you could think of from Kindergarten to Year 12.

    There is absolutely no excuse for any young person to not know about healthy lifestyle and available services.
    fearlessfly
    11th May 2016
    11:38am
    FIVE serves of veggies AND TWO serves of fruit is pure paraniod hysteria and cannot realistically be sustained. Granted it may be the bees knees for your health, but where can we fit in the occasional ratbag feed of fish and chips or the occasional KFC when we're on the road to far horizons ?
    particolor
    11th May 2016
    11:45am
    Yep !! :-) And I eat whatever I want, whenever I want ! My tummy never gets Surprises !! :-)
    MICK
    11th May 2016
    12:06pm
    If it's had that sort of effect on you fearless then I am a bit worried.
    particolor
    11th May 2016
    12:51pm
    I'm having a Ham Steak and Salad for Lunch !! :-) :-)
    KSS
    11th May 2016
    1:05pm
    fearlessfly it is actually easy to get the 5 and 2 and still be able to have your 'rat-bag' food. This is the 80/20 'rule' that says eat healthily 80% of the time, and treat yourself 20% of the time. Problem is many today reverse the numbers which is why lifestyle diseases including obesity are so high and on the increase.
    fearlessfly
    11th May 2016
    4:52pm
    With you there KSS, I was on the 5:2 for a while a few months ago and it did work ! But I found it was too tedious entering every single item of food/drink into MyFitnessPal to monitor my calorie intake. Now I just have a cup of soup for lunch most days of the week, and the weight hovers around the same figure most days. The non "Most Days" are the days that a bottle of beer miraculously opens itself and leaps off the bar into my hand.
    MICK
    11th May 2016
    12:05pm
    Readers need to watch the Catalyst episode shown last night on ABC. It repeats and is also available to play on its website.
    The episode was about cancer, which apparently 50% of 85 year olds and older have. There was a study (of sorts?) done which mixed specific exercises to coincide with Chem treatment and the results appeared to be fairly conclusive. WHilst not a proper scientific trial the cancers in a couple of the cases disappeared altogether. The suggested reason was that there are substances produced by the muscles and brain which are then sent throughout the body with the stimulated blood flow from exercise and then doing their job of killing cancer cells.
    I was impressed. All of us should watch same and embrace lifestyle changes. This is not a Liberal Party advertisement so please take note......smile!
    Bonny
    11th May 2016
    12:58pm
    Having been one of those people whose organs started to shut down while on chemotherapy even though I stayed quite active I really don't think exercise would stop this sort of thing happening. One day you feel OK and the next day you are in all sorts of trouble. I did however find that lots of walking and fresh sea air did allow me to not take the drugs for nausea.
    KSS
    11th May 2016
    1:10pm
    Mick there were some studies done a few years ago at a hospital in Inner West in Sydney of people exercising during the administration of the chemo i.e. as the drugs were being drip fed with some success too if I remember correctly.

    I don't think people understand the medicinal benefits of exercise for many chronic, severe, or life threatening diseases and conditions. People want the convenience of a pill rather than a prescription for regular targeted exercise. There are always excuses to be made, I could write a book:-)
    MICK
    11th May 2016
    2:35pm
    Been reading your posts around this theme for some time KSS and think we are on the same page.
    We all make excuses at times but eating healthy and exercise are two of the things which I believe keep us young and healthy. I manage to look after myself pretty well in those respects but I wish I could say the same about avoiding the stresses of life.
    And as you say the odd bit of junk food is rarely an issue. It's the routine fast food, unhealthy food and addiction to things (coke?) which put one on a path to illness.
    Maybe we'll be the last 2 posters not pushing up daisies on this website. It'll then be a fair political fight.....need a smilie here!
    shaper
    11th May 2016
    2:36pm
    I am still in a quandary about the pathology and xray bulk billing, I cannot seem to get an answer from anyone , is it or is it not going to still be bulk billed later in the year.? As for the 5 veggies and 2 fruits, how are you supposed to afford them on a pension, have you seen the price of fruit lately? and $5.00 for a cauliflower ?
    particolor
    11th May 2016
    2:50pm
    9 Bucks for Brussels Sprouts ?? Keep Them !! :-(
    Bonny
    11th May 2016
    3:12pm
    I give away heaps of fruit and vegetables every year to my local food store for the needy. Because I give it to them they can't not sell it so give it away. Anyone on a pension or has a health care card can access these stores so find one in your area and see what they have to give away.
    KSS
    11th May 2016
    3:41pm
    Shaper you could always get the frozen. That is much cheaper and just as nutritionally sound. And of course buy in season only and whatever is on 'special'. It is possible.
    fearlessfly
    11th May 2016
    4:54pm
    Buy veges and fruits at Aldi if it's available to you, their prices knock the big two for a six ! Make that an eight !
    particolor
    17th May 2016
    7:36pm
    Well the Price of meat sure got me in the Middle Stump !! :-(
    shaper
    11th May 2016
    5:01pm
    Thank everyone one thing we do not as yet have an Aldi store here in Perth
    and I still have not been given an answer about the pathology question.?
    fearlessfly
    11th May 2016
    5:24pm
    Aldi is on the way to your neck of the woods this year.
    Anonymous
    11th May 2016
    5:32pm
    And all the necks of every woods in order to establish themselves before Lidl starts to arrive here.
    MICK
    11th May 2016
    8:16pm
    Lidl could be good Eddie. In Germany Aldi is a minor player and Lidl is pretty big. At least that was the case where we were and the people we were staying with verified that. Good times to come.
    JJ
    17th May 2016
    5:56pm
    I think that the future for bulk-billing will depend on which party wins at the upcoming federal election. Labour is most likely to retain it, and Libs restrict it. That is my understanding of it at this point in time but who knows down the track?
    Blossom
    17th May 2016
    8:26pm
    People with Coeliac Disease get VERY ILL if they eat food containg gluten which is in wheat, rye and barley. It damages and flattens a portion of the instestine/bowel called the vili.
    Once they start the diet if they accidentally what food containing gluten at all or food that has had any contact with it the effects are more severe than before they started the diet-
    stomach cramps, vomitting, spending a lot of time on the toilet, collapsing, dizziness, headaches, muscle soreness are some of the problems caused by being glutened.
    They would spend a fortune extra basics like special bread -a loaf of bread for them starts from $4.99 and it is a lot smaller. Even a lot of sauces have wheat in them. Most vinegars have malt in them. A lot of treats like the occasional lolly or chocolate have gluten in them too. Some of the Easter Eggs had gluten in them. They have to read ingredient labels to check ingredients since they brought them previously. To cook some foods that require flour, a small packet of any type of gluten free flour costs at least twice as much as ordinary flour. A lot of "cornflour" is actually made from wheat. it is labelled wheaten cornflour. Genuine Cornflour (made from maize) is more expensive than the "normal".
    Even some brands of tomato sauce have gluten in them.
    They don't choose gluten free as a way of life. They eat it to stay alive with quality of life.
    Coelic Disease is an Autoimmune Disease. Some are also Lactose intolerant (sugar in dairy).
    Lactose free milk, cheese etc. are also considerably more expensive than cow's dairy products Some are allergic to Fructose which is the natural sugar in fruit.
    For them the Gluten Free Diet is a necessity as research has found that continuous damage can result in Bowel Cancer.
    Blossom
    17th May 2016
    8:30pm
    For the benefit of people who are fructose intolerant (the sugar in fruit) maybe the medical professional who helped with this article could give you a list of fruit with the leasr fructose in it if there is any.


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