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Sydney - St. George Branch

- Working for Australians in Retirement -


Meetings - 9.45 am, Grandviews Bowling Club, 821 Forest Road, Peakhurst
3rd Friday of each month, except December
New Members & Visitors - Welcome

You are invited to attend the October CHRISTMAS LUNCHEON

meeting of the St George Branch of
A.I.R. on Friday 21 October, starting at
9.45 am.
BUSINESS MEETING Following the November meeting
members are invited to attend the
COMMENCING 10 AM Christmas luncheon in the Grandview
Welcome: To new members & visitors Bowling Club's dining room,
commencing at 1 pm. This is a popular
annual event and the Committee looks
Confirmation of Previous Minutes: forward to seeing you there.
Business Arising from the Minutes:
Secretary to report
Membership RETIREES [ACN -102 164 38]
Welfare Sydney - St George Branch
Future Speakers PO Box 377 - Riverwood 2210
Newsletter Secretary - Pat Hinson:
President's report Ph 9554 4113
Membership - Christine Gash:
GUEST SPEAKER Treasurer - Syd Dickinson:
Basil La Brooy
National Seniors Australia Welfare - Rod Lynch: Ph 9546 4888
Newsletter Editor - John Palmer:

A new medical study has found some doctors may Dementia is currently the second leading cause of
be overprescribing the sleeping tablet benzo- death in Australia, but the Australian Bureau of
diazepine, commonly prescribed for senior Statistics (ABS) predicts that if current trends
patients, because they falsely believe the patient continue, dementia will overtake heart disease to
wants to continue its use. The study also reported become the leading cause of death within a few
that patients were often unaware of the side years.
effects of benzodiazepine. which can include an The recently released ABS figures show there
increased risk of falls and cognitive decline, nor were 159,052 deaths in Australia in 2015. For the
were patients aware of the drugs addictive traits. nine year period, 2006 to 2015, the number of
The study was headed by Dr Fiona Williams, a deaths due to dementia almost doubled from
practicing GP in Thirroul and a lecturer at the 6,550 to 12,625. Over the same period, the
University of Wollongong. It was recently pub- number of deaths from heart disease decreased
lished in the journal, 'Australian Family Physician'. from 23,132 to 19,777 and deaths from strokes
Dr Williams has estimated that 15% of Australians decreased from 11,479 to 10,869.
aged 65 and older are using benzodiazepines for With this massive increase in people dying from
long periods despite the Therapeutic Goods dementia, Alzheimers Australia is calling on the
Administration advising the medical profession Government to start action now. Alzheimers
they should be prescribed for short-term use only, Australia CEO Maree McCabe, said, As
to manage anxiety and insomnia. Australians adopt healthier lifestyle choices the
Her survey of older patients living in the Illawarra incidence of some chronic conditions such as
region, found long-term use was not uncommon, heart disease and stroke have been declining, but
and that some patients had been taking the greatest risk factor for dementia is a person's
benzodiazepines for more than 20 years. She age. While it is not a normal part of ageing, the
said, Our study found that benzodiazepine use fact remains that the risk of dementia does
often started at a time of stress for the patient and increase with age.
then continued into long-term use with patients Ms McCabe pointed out that while the Federal
having poor awareness of the side effects and Government has elevated dementia to become a
addictive potential. National Health Priority, Australia still does not
The survey also found that when told about the have a National Dementia Strategy to tackle
long term risks of using benzodiazepine, many dementia. She said, "There are now 353,800
patients said they assumed that if their GP was not Australians living with dementia and we cant
challenging their benzodiazepine use, it was OK to ignore the rising dementia figures. The time to act
continue. is now.
Benzodiazepines slow down the workings of the Around 25,000 Australians are living with 'younger
brain and the central nervous system. They are onset dementia' (a diagnosis under the age of 65),
used medically to reduce anxiety, to help people and one in ten people over 65, and one in three
sleep and to relax the body. They should only be over 85, now have dementia.
prescribed for short periods of time. This is As well as a National Dementia Strategy,
because it is possible to become dependent on Alzheimers Australia, believes Australians should
them after as little as four weeks. be encouraged to learn more about dementia and
There are about 30 different types (generic it would like to see an increased awareness of
names) of benzodiazepines. Each one of these dementia risk reduction programs such as Your
generic name drugs may be sold under several Brain Matters, to improve or maintain brain health
different brand names - all the same drug, but as we get older.
made by different companies. The brand names of _______________________________________
benzodiazepine include; -
i) Diazepam- Valium; Hon Chris Minns
ii) Oxazepam- Serepax, Murelax; Labor MP for Kogarah
iii) Nitrazepam- Mogadon, Alodorm. In opening his talk to members, Chris Minns, who
is the Shadow Water Minister in the NSW
Parliament, said he wished to remind members
that there is much bi-partisan interaction in the
Government at Macquarie Street. He felt the
media attempts to over-emphasise the negative
things that happen in the NSW Parliament, rather job in preparing inmates for work, after their
than drawing attention to the many issues where release. To replace them with untrained personnel,
there is a consensus of opinion. to save an estimated $500m, is a recipe for
Chris said he often consults with NSW Govern- disaster. Its all about money.
ment ministers. As an example, he recently spoke Finally, Chris said he has put on notice that he will
to Duncan Gay about the West Connect Highway, investigate progress with the $16.5 million upgrade
pointing out the need to give back some of the of the overhead rail bridge at Lily Street, Allawah,
land that had been taken away and use it for which is scheduled to be completed in 2017. The
parks. He thought his comment was taken on upgrade will comprise one northbound lane and
board by the Minister. three southbound lanes, including a left-turn lane,
Chris then drew attention to the waste of public right-turn lane and another for through traffic.
money by Sydney Water, which is committed to In conclusion, Chis said he felt the social news
pay $200m a year to the 'Ontario Teachers Fund' media is good but not as effective as one on one
for the next 50 years to maintain the NSW interaction which is why he still has a mobile van
Desalination Plant in mothballs for the same for travelling around his electorate
On the subject of Council amalgamations, Chris On behalf of the members, Paul Flynn moved a
said that he was in favour of a St George amal- vote of thanks to MP Chris Minns for taking time to
gamation which includes Rockdale in the mix. visit the St George Branch and give a very
Joining Rockdale and Botany Councils is not right, interesting and informative talk.
as there is no common community interest, ________________________________________
whereas Rockdale, Kogarah and Hurstville WHITECOAT
Councils all have an interest in the same parks,
rivers and transport etc. He felt that there had not Whitecoat (email: is a
been enough public consultation in the process. comprehensive online health care provider
On this same topic, Neil Birdsall pointed out that directory and customer service website, aimed
the new name of 'Georges River Council' was at giving Australians better control over their
unfortunate. It should have been named 'St health care.
George Council' because residents all see our
local area as being the St George area. For Since it was launched in 2013, over two
example, in the phone directory there are 97 com- million Australians have taken advantage of
panies and organisations using the name 'St Whitecoats services. Its a comprehensive
George' in their title including our own St George network of over 210,000 health care
A.I.R. However there are only 7organisations listed professionals, listed across 25 different
that use the title 'Georges River' and of those 4 are provider types. So whether youre looking for a
in the East Hills Liverpool area". Chris agreed and dentist in Dandenong or a Chiropractor in
said that he would be prepared to lobby to have Cootamundra, you can easily find one using
the Council's name changed to "St George the Whitecoat web site.
Regarding the public debate about the Govern- By using Whitecoat, you can search and
ment's decision to close down the greyhound compare health care providers, to make a
industry in New South Wales, Chris was very better and more informed choice, when
direct in saying that there is undoubtedly cruelty in selecting a health care provider. Whitecoat is
the industry. He said that the greyhound debate in particularly useful for people who have moved
Parliament went from 2 pm until 4 am. The to a new area or need treatment for a
Greyhound Report was 800 pages long and specialist service for the first time. But note
contained 80 recommendations, but it did not insist only medical providers who have signed up to
on the greyhound industry closing. Again there
Whitecoat are listed.
was no consultation! Chris told members that for
every 1,000 dogs bred to produce 100 extremely Whitecoat will also assist those seeking to
fast racing dogs, 900 young dogs are destroyed. read a report from patients who have already
He said, "Lets investigate the industry with a two to visited a particular health care provider.
three year trial". Chris said Mike Bairds political
Whitecoat users also have access to an ever-
mistakes are often due to his not explaining the
issues. He felt the Premier needs to be more open growing list of 250,000 medical reviews from
with his constituents. real users to help you pick the right provider.
On the subject of NSW prisons, Chris said Labor _______________________________________
had privatized the Park Lee and Junee prisons
and the Labor party is opposed to the sacking of GUEST SPEAKER
125 prison teachers, as they are doing a very good Commencing at 11 am -
TO PROMOTE SAFER USE According to Australian census data, almost 1 in
10 Australians now live alone, and this number is
predicted to rise as apartment living becomes
New consumer labels on medicines have been increasingly accessible. While for some living,
introduced to provide simpler instructions and alone might sound like a dream come true, some
address safety concerns for people with allergies studies have linked isolation to poor health
and also reduce accidental overdose. outcomes, and interestingly, new data from the
Medibank Better Health Index has revealed the
Heath Minister Sussan Ley said, Under the incidence of common diseases such as cancer,
changes consumers will be able to easily identify arthritis, diabetes and high blood pressure were all
the active ingredients in medicines, because they higher amongst those residing alone, compared
will be more prominent and will also be placed in a with the general population. So why should this
consistent location on the label. In addition, to be? Commenting on these findings, the Medibank
protecting people with serious allergies, sub- Medical Director, Dr Kevin Cheng said: "It may be
stances from crustaceans, fish, eggs, soya, milk that these findings have been influenced by
and tree nuts, must now be declared for all types sampling older populations, containing more
of medicines. The changes will require that a people living alone."
space must be included for pharmacists to apply
While there can be some negative effects of living
dispensing labels to prescription medicines.
alone, these can be reduced by making good
Many higher risk, over the counter medicines, will
health and lifestyle choices. Here are some tips on
also be required to include a health information
how to thrive while living alone:
panel with details of active ingredients, uses,
warnings and directions for use. This is intended to i) Don't skip meals. Its tempting to skip meals or
provide consistency so that consumers will be able eat takeaway when youre living alone. The
to easily find important information about their Harvard Medical School suggests routinely eating
medicines. Ms Ley said these changes were three meals a day, and having fresh foods daily.
initiated following extensive industry, health care ii) Drink less alcohol. According to the Australian
professional and public consultations over the past Institute of Family studies, men who live alone are
five years. more likely to drink to excess, but this is not the
case for women.
The new medicine labels will gradually appear on iii) Maintain social relationships with family and
prescription medicines, as well as on medicines friends. Research psychologist, John Cacioppo,
bought at pharmacists, or in other retail outlets. reported that loneliness can impact on a range of
________________________________________ health indicators, including blood pressure,
immune responses, sleep patterns, stress
hormones and overall well being.
Source: Medibank Private.

The Association of Independent

Retirees (A.I.R.) Ltd takes no
responsibility for the views expressed in
articles, extracts thereof or advertise-
Branch newsletters are intended to
relay information only, not give specific
advice, or make recommendations.