HOPE Foundation November 2019
HOPE celebrates 25 years of working for the aged
Guest Editorial by Professor David Richmond
I AM DELIGHTED to have been invited by the Chair of the Trust, Dr. Maree Todd, to contribute to this newsletter marking the 25th anniversary of The Foundation.
David Richmond with Desley Simpson at the HOPE’s 25th Anniversary High Tea celebration
25 years takes us back to 1994. Strange as it might seem to us now, it was a time when there were major differences of opinion as to whether the needs of sick elderly people were any different to those of younger adults.
Few recognised that sick older people reacted differently to their younger counterparts in their reactions to medication, the symptoms and signs of common disorders and changes in their environment. Many were reluctant to accept the value of rehabilitation for older people following strokes or falls.
Even in good health, many older people struggled, due to difficult access to commercial buildings like banks and postoffices, low-grade housing, unaffordability of adequate home heating, inadequate public transport, loneliness and many other issues.
Questions about the needs of caregivers, ways of assess ing eligibility for scarce rest home or hospital care, the likely effect of an ageing population on the economy and many other issues abounded, but funding for in-depth investigation of such questions was not readily available. Most investigations of new medicines and medical techniques did not even include anyone older than 65 years!
In the 1980s and 90s people aged 65 years and over comprised about 10% of the N.Z. population. But a comparison with European nations suggested that over the next 40 years or so the rate of ageing would accelerate to reach a projected level of 26+%. by 2050. At the 2013 Census it was already 14.3%. What impact was this likely to have on the community?
Fortunately, we had a “window of opportunity” to find answers to questions such as that. But research is expensive. The government had other priorities and it was this dichotomy between resources and need, that encouraged a core group of us to set up the organisation that became the Hope Foundation for Research on Ageing
The long-term result speaks for itself as other items in this newsletter tell. It has been achieved by a unique mix of talented Executive Officers, all of whom strongly believed in the value of HOPE’s contribution and passed their enthusiasm on to potential donors; a Board that never stops think- ing laterally and believes strongly in the “art of the impossible”, a Committee of The Friends that has been able to offer a variety of superb entertainment in the interests of fund-raising, whilst drawing together our “family” of supporters; and finally donors, both large and small, who have encouraged HOPE going forward.
We at HOPE don’t measure our success in purely numeric form, i.e. judging by the number of scholarships awarded. Research support enables new questions to be asked and answered, new analytic skills to be developed, new career options being considered, new relationships formed between young and old.
The “thank you” letters we frequently receive from grateful students and often their supervisors are heart-warming. They more than compensate for all the work that went into developing the Foundation 25 years ago.
Thank you, dear friends and donors, for your contribution to HOPE.
Thanks to Our 2019 Major Sponsors
The Douglas Goodfellow - Bollard Charitable Trust Charitable Trust - Jogia Charitable Trust
The Kelliher Charitable Trust - Lois McFarlane Charitable Trust
The Selwyn Foundation - Agnes Hope Day Trust
Friends of the HOPE Foundation
HOPE Summer Student Scholarships
These scholarships are awarded to support high achieving University students to do an ageing focused research project over the 10 week summer break. The aim is not only to achieve high quality worthwhile research, but also to enable these students to gain valuable skills, by working with experienced researchers, who supervise these projects. Due to the generosity of our sponsors, we have been able to award 3 Summer Scholarships to the University of Auckland and for the first time, we also have 2 Summer scholars from the University of Canterbury
David Chan, Auckland University
The Mechanism of CGRP Signalling Pathway in Osteogenic Differentiation & Function
Bone fractures and other bone injuries often cause severe morbidity in the elderly, particularly those with osteoporosis. In these cases, surgical interventions are the primary treatment methods, while anabolic factors that enhance healing, have limited use.
It has been long known that bone tissue has a varying composition of sympathetic and sensory innervation. While sympathetic signals are negative regulators of bone formation, the role of sensory nerve fibres in bone healing is not clearly understood. The periosteum (part of the bone most involved in bone healing and formation) is noted to have the highest density of sensory nerve fibres which secrete neurotransmitters, calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) and substance P (SP).
Evidence has shown that sensory nerve fibres play an important role in bone healing and CGRP are the potential mediators of these bone-anabolic effects. CGRP promotes the differentiation of osteoblast while inhibiting osteoclast formation and CGRP knock out mice have shown to have reduced bone density due to impaired bone formation.
Although the role of sensory nerve fibres and CGRP in bone healing is well established, the mechanism and signalling pathway in which it occurs remains unclear. As a potential system for drug discovery, it is important to fully understand the underlying mechanisms, as it may vary depending on the bone cell composition of target tissues. The project I will be working on, under the supervision of Dr Matthews, aims to evaluate several signalling pathways and their involvement with CGRP, regarding both osteoblast proliferation and differentiation. A variety of laboratory techniques will be involved, including immunostaining and real time PCR to help map out these pathways.
A deeper understanding of CGRP and its signalling pathway could pave the way for future translational studies to improve health outcomes for bone fractures as we age.
Lacey Coulson, Auckland University
Detecting eye pathology in elderly patients using novel vision assessment devices
Vision impairment is common in the elderly and can cause significant morbidity, impaired quality of life, loss of independence, and risk of falls. Many older people do not have easy access to ophthalmic assessment.
The ability to accurately assess vision using new tools, including mobile technology, is essential for frail older people in care facilities, with limited access to quality ophthalmic assessments. There are several devices that have been developed for testing vision and refractive error, including a novel smartphone coupled device. This new device has not been tested or compared with existing devices that measure refractive error in a clinical setting.
The aim of this study is to detect eye pathology using several devices, including a novel smartphone coupled device. The project will involve testing visual acuity, and contrast sensitivity in an elderly population, using conventional as well as novel mobile technology.
Conor Nelson, Auckland University
An immunotherapeutic approach to promote learning and memory in ageing.
N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors play a central role in brain development and function and contributes to the pathogenesis of many neurological diseases. We have developed an antibody-based strategy for selectively amplifying the activation of NMDA receptor-mediated signalling pathways that promote neuronal survival and learning and memory.
An immunotherapy that has both cognitive-enhancing and neuroprotective properties would have broad therapeutic utility against a broad range of neurological disorders in humans.
We are currently testing the therapeutic effectiveness of our immunotherapy to determine whether our therapy can prevent the decline in learning and memory function that occurs in aged mice.
This summer studentship project will involve biochemical and molecular analyses of the brains of treated aged and adult mice to examine the effect of the treatment on NMDA receptor expression and downstream signalling molecules.
Kelsey Campbell, University of Canterbury
Speech disfluencies associated with Parkinson’s Disease and healthy ageing.
As part of the Summer Scholarship, Kelsey Campbell (3rd year Bachelor in Psychology at the University of Canterbury) will investigate the relationship between speech disfluencies and Parkinson’s disease. She will conduct her research in the Speech-Language Neuroscience Lab | Te Puna Pūtaiao Ioio under supervision of Drs. Catherine Theys and Megan McAuliffe.
Speech disfluencies commonly occur in the speech of people who do not stutter, but their influence on the forward flow of conversation seems minimal (Bortfeld et al, 2001). This differs from the disfluencies that are the core characteristic of stuttered speech production, which have both qualitative and quantitative differences. However, an increased focus on speech disfluencies in older adults has been observed, especially in studies on populations with acquired neurogenic disorders such as stroke, traumatic brain injury and Parkinson’s Disease (De Nil, Theys & Jokel, 2018).
For example, it has recently been suggested that speech disfluencies are more common in people with Parkinson’s Disease, and differ from those in normal ageing (Juste et al, 2018). Kelsey will contribute to the examination of the presence and characteristics of speech disfluencies in Parkinson’s disease, and whether these disfluencies do differ from those observed in healthy older speakers.
Sarah Hinchey, University of Canterbury
Speech disfluencies in healthy ageing: normative data
As part of the Summer Scholarship, Sarah Hinchey (3rd year Bachelor in Speech and Language Pathology student at the University of Canterbury) will investigate the relationship between speech disfluencies and healthy ageing. She will conduct her research in the Speech-Language Neuroscience Lab | Te Puna Pūtaiao Ioio under supervision of Drs. Catherine Theys, Megan McAuliffe and Doreen Hansmann.
Speech disfluencies commonly occur in people’s everyday conversations. In fluent speakers, the influence of the disfluencies on the forward flow of conversation seems minimal (Bortfeld et al, 2001). However, for people who stutter, speech disfluencies are the core characteristic of stuttered speech production. Much of the research on speech disfluencies has been conducted within the framework of developmental stuttering, and its primary focus has therefore been on disfluencies in childhood.
More recently, an increased focus on speech disfluencies in older adults has been observed, especially in studies on populations with acquired neurogenic disorders such as stroke, traumatic brain injury and Parkinson’s disease (De Nil, Theys & Jokel, 2018). Although most of these clients with acquired disfluencies are over 65 years of age, normative data on speech disfluencies in large groups of healthy older speakers is missing. This complicates the diagnostic and treatment processes for this population. The scholarship is part of a larger project that aims to provide normative data on disfluencies in the New Zealand context.
Knowledge Exchange Day
IN OCTOBER we held our biennial research day at the Domain Lodge in Grafton, bringing together researchers from a diverse range of specialties, from all over New Zealand. Topics ranged from social science to anatomy and bio-chemistry, and as two doctors who attended commented, it was a very inspiring day and more relevant than some international conferences they had attended.
An interesting finding from the “Older People in Retirement Villages Study” found that 26% of residents commented that they were still lonely, so moving to a Retirement village does not necessarily mitigate isolation. Another presentation highlighted the difficulties informal caregivers have; particularly with little government support despite the increasing need, struggling with the complex demands of caregiving and often neglecting their own health. TheInclusiveStreetscapesStudyfrom the University of Auckland focused on transport accessibility, particularly for people with chronic health impairments or disabilities. Part of this study involved the researchers going out and actually walking with the participants, to experience things from their perspective. There is clearly much to be done to make travel around Auckland more accessible and safer for older people, but unfortunately, a lack of strategic planning from the top down, to make these changes. The Auckland Department of Anatomy is trialling miniaturized wireless optoelectronic subdermal implants, using optogenetic technology and light, to stimulate hippocampal neurons, which will greatly assist research of brain pathology. Finally, one of the most important studies was presented by Assoc Professor Carol Wham from Massey University, which showed that over 43% of patients aged over 65years in their study, were dehydrated or had impending dehydration, while in a public hospital. This is often due to remedial issues such as difficulty taking lids or tops off drinks and lack of monitoring by staff that food and fluid is accessible. Clearly those affected, will have worse clinical outcomes and a longer length of hospital stay, so it is imperative that hospitals address this deficit in care.
It was wonderful to experience the enthusiasm and see the quality of research being done in the ageing field. It was especially heartening to hear Janet Clews and Judy Blakey, both senior citizens, present their paper on Collaborating to deliver an Age Friendly Tamaki Makaurau/Auckland. Janet and Judy are part of a Seniors Advisory Panel to the Auckland City Council and have helped to develop a strategy that will enable Auckland City to join the World Health Organisation’s global network of Age-friendly Cities and Communities, by 2020. Older people doing it for themselves!
Friends of the Hope Foundation
High tea a fine way to celebrate our first 25 years
High Tea workers in the kitchen. From left: Annette Wilson, Sally Frengley, Linda Snell, Leonie Lawson, Kaye Davies, Caroline Ward
THE HOPE Foundation reached 25 years in 2019 and the Friends Committee took the opportunity to celebrate this achievement.
The historic Selwyn Library in Parnell (built in 1856) was the venue for 64 people to enjoy high tea and look back to its beginning, David Richmond, Inaugural Professor of Geriatric Medicine at Auckland University, who on retirement fulfilled his vision of a fund for research into ageing in NZ, related some of the ups and downs the Foundation has been through to reach this year.
Kathy Peri, the first HOPE scholarship recipient (2004) to complete her PhD, entertained us with her stories and Dr Maree Todd shared her vision for The HOPE Foundation’s future. Since it began The Hope Foundation has granted a total of 131 scholarships. Of those 79 were to PhD Scholars, 13 Masters and 39 Summer student scholarships. It is a grand record for a small foundation and each scholarship means so much to the recipient.
Friends and supporters have contributed to these scholarships since 2005. The Friends over the recent years have raised sufficient funds in one year for one scholarship.
That is a great result and only due to your support. We thank you for your involvement.
Karen Andersen Yates
Joan-Mary Longcroft made the HOPE’s birthday cake
Better breathing is the way to improve your all-round health
GREETINGS FELLOW members of the Friends of the HOPE Foundation.
The weather is becoming warmer and activities are hotting up for all the things which happen before Christmas Day ar- rives. The HOPE Foundation is doing sterling work by support- ing scholarships to fund research for ageing ailments. Our health and well-being are paramount as we get older and I have a few simple tips and snippets for your interest and help.
The first thing a newborn child does is breathe and the last thing a person does as his spirit leaves his body is to stop breathing. Between these two extremes, the beginning and the end of life, we breathe every second of the day and right through weeks, months and years.
Leonie Lawson MNZM
There are so many recommended methods of breathing but they all benefit our well being and there are a multitude of ways we can do this ourselves in our daily lives and at our leisure without having to go to the gym, Yoga or Pilates classes.
Deep breathing sends a message to your brain that has a calming effect. It can lower your heart rate and breathing rate, decrease your blood pressure, reduce muscle tension and help you feel less stressed overall which is a great benefit.
Good breathing is also the basis of singing and speaking which we all do to a greater or lesser degree. With Christmas coming we constantly hear carols and songs either on the radio or TV or while shopping in stores and malls. Enjoy them walking, vacuuming or gardening or lying in bed. It does not matter if you are not in tune the activity of singing is so good for breathing exercise.I found an interesting story recently entitled ‘Exercise to make good Piano Movers’: Lie on your back on the floor, place a brick on the abdomen and practise raising and lowering the brick. Then add another brick until you gradually increase the number to 12 bricks. When this was achieved it was considered good breathing had been mastered and you were able to use the abdomen to push pianos around. I doubt if piano movers of today would be able to do this and I don’t suggest you try it. I use this for my young choir girls but we do it with a book (not a brick) counting to 8 while pushing the book up with breath intake, then hold for 3 counts then slowly lower.
‘The Whistle Method of Breathing’: Take a little whistle, such as one finds in teddy bears, and inhale and exhale. When you can walk 24 steps to one intake of breath it is said perfect breathing has been mastered. Playing the harmonica is also good as an exercise.
Walking in Cornwall Park is a perfect way to breathe deeply and fill the lungs with fresh air and oxygen. Breathe deeply, enjoy the fresh air over the holidays and most of all be happy, healthy and wise.
You can also help by
- Spreading the word about what we do / share this newsletter
- Donating your time to the Friends Supporters to help with fundraising and committee work
- Encouraging your children and grandchildren to invest in their futures by donating time and money (a baby girl born today has a 1 in 3 chance of living to 100 , a boy 1 in 4 and is likely to be fitter and healthier–think about the implications of that)
- Consider a bequest