Oral health of elderly New Zealanders in aged care an urgent national clinical problem - study

The oral health of frail older New Zealanders has been declared an urgent clinical problem that "is only going to get worse", in an extensive world-first study.

Otago University has surveyed the oral health of 987 people living in aged residential care and found those with dementia, and older men in general, have dirtier and more decayed teeth.

Lead author of the study, Professor Murray Thomson, describes poor oral health as one of the "geriatric giants", that is predominantly caused by the higher rates of cognitive and physical impairments found among older Kiwis.

"Neither the aged care sector nor the dental profession, in most countries, is prepared. Not only do we have more and more older people every year, but more and more people are entering old age with their own teeth, rather than full dentures, as was the situation just a couple of decades ago," Professor Thomson says.

"In some ways, dentistry has been a victim of its success – we have long emphasised the idea of 'teeth for life' without much thought to what happens towards the end of life.

"We also now know that half of those in old age will end up in residential aged care, and that more and more of those will have some form of dementia."

Another alarming finding form the study was that "slow progress" was being made in the area of geriatric oral health.

"It's a very complex situation involving a lot of players – the aged care sector, the Ministry of Health, the dental profession, and the public. An encouraging sign is the inclusion of oral health in New Zealand’s Healthy Ageing Strategy. That’s a starting point, but there is a lot of work to be done," Professor Thomson says.

Of those examined in the study (representative of the more than 14,000 New Zealanders living in aged care), recently published in the journal Gerodontology, about half had severely impaired cognitive function, and more than a third required fillings or extractions.

Those with severely impaired cognitive function had greater numbers of decaying teeth. They also had higher oral debris scores, reflecting poorer daily oral hygiene care.

Professor Thomson says greater rates of tooth decay can lead to dental and facial infections, poorer quality of life, malnutrition and communication difficulties.

The researchers also found that even the most cognitively impaired participants were able to be examined fairly easily, and regular, routine removal of oral debris by carers should not be a difficult task.

"The issue that we currently face is that much of that debris removal is not being done, and this, along with frequent exposure to sugary, over-processed meals and snacks, and poor salivary function, is enabling plaque and dental caries to flourish in aged residential care populations," Professor Thomson says.

For those wanting to improve or maintain their oral health, Professor Thomson has some simple advice: brush twice daily with fluoride toothpaste; clean carefully between the teeth at least two to three times per week; avoid having sweet drinks or snacks between meals (and that includes sugar in tea or coffee – it takes only a couple of days to get used to not having it); and avoid smoking.

"For people who have poor oral health in middle age, it is not going to be any better in old age, and an honest, open conversation with a dentist about the options, which may include complete extraction, may be a very good idea," Professor Thomson says.


Man who drowned at Hot Water Beach was trying to save child, church group says

A man who drowned yesterday at Hot Water Beach reportedly trying to save a child was a member of a Tauranga Christian organisation.

Couples for Christ New Zealand confirmed on its Facebook page that Angelo Tuyay had died while trying to save a child shortly before 4pm.

“Brothers and Sisters, it is with sadness to inform you that Bro Angelo Tuyay passed away today,” the page wrote.

Source: Facebook/Couples for Christ New Zealand

“Let us all say our prayers for Bro Angelo who died while saving a child drowning in Coromandel area.”

Tuyay, aged in his 50s, was pulled from the water and given CPR but died at the scene.

Shortly before 4pm, the Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter responded to reports that a man was struggling in the water.

Hot Water Beach lifeguards were packing up after training on the other side of the beach and were not made aware of the incident for six or seven minutes after Fire and Emergency New Zealand had been notified, NZ Herald reported.

"We need to be there as soon as other people. If we get stood down that is fine, but seven to eight minutes, in a life-saving situation, is crucial,” chairman Gary Hinds said.

Two weeks ago, a similar incident unfolded, with lifeguards only made aware of a near drowning when the fire truck responding called Mr Hinds.

"I've been working on this for four or five years. We are like the poor cousins, we have the same training and assets and we are the ones at the beach and know it well,” he told the NZ Herald.

"It is disappointing, we don't know if we could have changed anything, we have to sort this out, so it doesn't keep happening."

The man's death had been referred to the coroner, a police spokesperson said.

Couples for Christ New Zealand confirmed on its Facebook page that Angelo Tuyay had died while trying to save a child shortly before 4pm.


Transport Minister slams NZTA for 'not properly doing its job' in regards to companies that check heavy vehicles

The Transport Minister has slammed the New Zealand Transport Agency for "not properly doing its job", after it was found to not be adequately checking in on companies that certify heavy vehicles as safe for the road. 

"When problems with these companies were identified there was often no follow up. This was due to process failures and under-resourcing over the last decade," Phil Twyford said this morning. 

"I am disappointed as Transport Minister that the transport agency has failed to carry out its regulatory responsibilities to the standard that I expect."

The Housing NZ board will not be sacked over the methamphetamine contamination “fiasco”, the housing minister said.
Source: 1 NEWS

However, Mr Twyford was pleased at the board's "swift action" and the cases were being urgently reviewed. 

"The NZTA board has acted decisively, calling in independent lawyers to review the cases," he said.

NZTA chief executive Fergus Gammie said major improvements were needed. 

"We know we have to do better and we accept our responsibility to fix it," he said. 

The agency has appointed two additional heavy vehicle engineers and two more auditors had been appointed. Seventeen additional WOF and Certificate of Fitness inspectors were being recruited. 

The external independent review, led by law firm Meredith Connell, began in September.

"Based on preliminary findings, the Transport Agency is immediately strengthening its enforcement regime by increasing suspensions, with other legal actions expected to follow," Mr Twyford said in a statement.

"About 152 files require urgent legal or investigative review and that work is expected to be completed by early November."

It was found NZTA was not properly checking on the companies that certify heavy vehicles as being safe for the road. Source: 1 NEWS


NZ moves to stamp out faux environmentally-friendly 'greenwash' branding

Consumer advocates have produced guides offering clarity to stop shoppers paying extra for products that aren't as environmentally friendly as these seem.

This practice is called greenwashing and some warned the problem was only going to get worse, as shoppers look to make more sustainable choices with their wallet.

Since 2013, two companies have been fined through the Commerce Commission for making unsubstantiated environmental claims.

Waste management body WasteMinz chief executive Paul Evans says greenwashing can take many forms.

"There are products which heavily use the colour green, to infer some environmental standard, they use tag lines, or logo which suggest there's an environmental benefit, some have cute little creatures on them.

"There's certainly a number of products out there, in my opinion the average consumer would look at that and think this has got a really good environmental benefit to it," he said.

Mountains of paper and plastic are building up in recycling centres around the country. Source: 1 NEWS

Mr Evans said there was now a working group creating advertising guides for companies, so they met consumers' expectations.

The guides will be ready by the end of the year, but if that did not work the group would take the matter further.

"In the first instance we will be contacting a number of manufacturers asking them to substantiate their claims, where they're not able to substantiate them, we'll look at gathering the data required to see if that needs to go to the Commerce Commission," he said.

RNZ contacted company Bonson SavPac who was using a green tree and brown paper for their food containers.

On their website it said the product meets the increasing demand for environmental-friendly food packaging options.

However chief executive David Tsui told RNZ the packaging can't be recycled or composted in New Zealand, due to its plastic lining.

"We're from the angle, it was made from renewable resources, from trees, so we interpret that as an environmentally friendly product," he said.

Mr Tsui said they are now looking at changing the wording on the website and alternative linings, so it can be recycled.

Tauranga's landfills have nearly 2000 tonnes of glass, deemed a danger to waste management staff. Source: 1 NEWS

Lyn Mayes from the Packaging Forum said some companies had been tripped up by the changes in how New Zealand dealt with its rubbish.

"Things have changed with the impact of the China swords, that has really changed the markets for a lot of products that were once recyclable because we sent them off shore.

"With those markets drying up its a lot more difficult to find viable markets here in New Zealand or even off shore," she said.

She said some companies are now setting-up collections to make sure their products can be disposed of in the way they are advertised.
Consumer NZ spokesperson Jessica Wilson said greenwashing could become a growing issue as the market increases for sustainable goods.

"We do need in this area around packaging better standards around what companies can and cannot claim, rally if they're making claims they can't substantiate then that is a potential breech of the fair trading act, and they could be prosecuted by the commerce commission," she said.

In the meantime, Ms Wilson said there were ways consumers could protect themselves from paying extra for a faux environmentally-friendly product.

"Our advice is to be sceptical about environmental claims, if the manufacturer isn't providing good information to back them up.

"If it can't tell you for example where you can get rid of your compostable material, than avoid doing business with them," she said.

By Charlie Dreaver

Gill Higgins gets the preview of the Wellington plant that’ll finally be big enough to deal with all the plastic Kiwis throw away.
Source: 1 NEWS

Chloe Swarbrick debates cannabis legalisation with Family First's Bob McCoskrie - 'Putting out the welcome mat for big marijuana'

New Zealand is set to have a referendum on the personal use of cannabis by, or at, the 2020 election. 

TVNZ1's Q+A sat the two sides of the argument down, with Green Party MP Chloe Swarbrick debating national director of Family First Bob McCoskrie on the topic. 

It comes as Canada is just days out from legalising recreational cannabis.

"Canada is going to be doing this on Wednesday this coming week," Ms Swarbrick said, calling the country's regulations "robust". 

"They are focussed on harm reduction, they're focussed on education, they're focussed on taking it out of the hands of kids.  I think that's quite different from models that we have seen perhaps in the likes of Colorado which are more free market type models."

Ms Swarbrick said the legislation would be provided in New Zealand prior to a referendum, so the public would know what they would be voting on. 

However, Mr McCoskrie said it would be "putting out the welcome mat for big marijuana". 

"When you talk about a referendum on marijuana... people are thinking of rolling a joint and the mellow euphoria and it's going to harm nobody.

"But what you actually find is that this is big marijuana, at a time when we are kicking big tobacco out of this country finally because we have realised the health harms."

Watch the full debate here: 

Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First and Chloe Swarbrick Green Party MP debate whether NZ should legalise the use and sale of cannabis. Source: Q+A

The pair have very differing views on how to tackle New Zealand’s drug problem. Source: Q+A