The issue no one talks about that affects up to 50% of post-menopausal women

Over60 NZ native article for Dr Anju Basu

As we age, it’s only natural for our mind and body to go through changes – some welcome, some not so welcome. While we can all appreciate the wisdom and lust for life that comes with growing older, there’s one thing in particular that all women would agree we could all do without.

Vaginal atrophy is a condition that affects up to 50 per cent of all post-menopausal women, but sadly, it’s an issue that is constantly brushed under the rug. Even worse? Only 25 per cent seek treatment.

So, what exactly is it and how can it be treated? According to Wellington-based gynaecologist, Dr Anju Basu, vaginal atrophy is “a very common problem of menopause that results in symptoms of vaginal dryness, painful intercourse, vaginal burning, itching, abnormal discharge and urinary symptoms such as incontinence. Society tends to forget older women and doesn’t give thought to their quality of life, assuming women over 50 don’t want to have sex! That’s not true, and I’m hoping to change that.”

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The children’s book challenging ageist stereotypes

In January, we introduced you to Andrea Gallagher, the Australian author challenging old stereotypes with her children’s picture book, Superstar Grandmas: An A-Z of Seriously Cool Seniors. Now, two months later, Gallagher has just released her follow-up book, Mega-rad Grandads.

Aside from the many “dynamic and vibrant grandads” she knew, Andrea tells Over60 her main inspiration was her very own father – and now grandad to her two children. “He’s the most amazing grandad,” she gushes. “He’s really something very special.”

Sick of the “grumpy old grandad” stereotype she had so often seen, Andrea decided to shed some light on what grandfathers truly are – fun-loving, making up for lost time, and essential to every child’s development.

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How I rediscovered a love of learning in retirement

Over60 native article for AustralianSuper

As the life expectancy of Australians continues to grow, many find themselves working longer than they expected – or even hoped. As such, a growing number of over-60s are choosing to give themselves a competitive edge by taking community classes, completing online courses and even going to university. Over60 community member, 72-year-old Geraldine Luker, is one of them.

“Many years ago, I was married to a man that wouldn’t let me develop my interests,” she tells Over60. “Having said that, he allowed me to undergo my EN training [enrolled nurse]. I was privileged to be one of the first groups of ENs trained at Flinders Medical Centre 1975 to 76.

“After many years of working as an EN in acute care, with a change of marriage status and with my daughter’s encouragement, I commenced my degree  (it means you are trained on the job (explained above) but don’t have a degree) at Flinders University in 2006. The experience was so exciting, I felt I was where I always wanted to be. At the age of 62, yes indeed I was the oldest student in nursing at Flinders.

[…]

“I finally completed my degree in 2009. It was an epic journey and I loved every minute of it. It just goes to show, when you fail at school it’s not the end of the road. I have had many people in their 50s say, ‘I would like to study but I’m too old.’ I will always encourage people to further their learning.”

Of course, the prospect of returning to education can be a daunting one, especially if it’s been a while since you were last at school or completed a course. That’s why we’ve put together this easy guide so no matter your situation, budget or schedule, you can dive back into the world of learning.

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Is it possible to detect Parkinson’s sooner?

Over60 native article for the Garvan Institute

Parkinson’s disease has long been a source of confusion, misinformation and misunderstanding, with many believing it to simply be “the shakes”. But there is so much more to this cruel and complex disease.

According to Parkinson’s Australia, there are currently around 70,000 people affected by the disease in this country alone. The average age of diagnosis is 65 years, but for some, the dreaded news can come much earlier.

“My mother had Parkinson’s,” Over60 community member Pauline Marrone explains. “She was first diagnosed at 43 years old and passed away at 73. The last 10 years of her life, once she became bedridden, were terrible to watch, particularly the involuntary jumping of her legs after she had taken her medication. My dad was her carer. He passed away in his sleep, in bed next to her, and she was unable to do anything but lay there next to him until help arrived. It was very traumatic.”

Not only is its cause currently almost impossible to pinpoint, it’s also notoriously difficult to diagnose, as there are currently no laboratory tests available – diagnosis is all down to examinations conducted by neurologists.

To understand a bit more about the disease, and learn about an exciting breakthrough that may lead to the development of an effective treatment, we spoke to Associate Professor Antony Cooper. As head of the neuroscience division at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, his work focuses on a number of neurodegenerative diseases – primarily, Parkinson’s disease.

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600g premature baby beat the odds thanks to you

Over60 NZ native article for Wellington Hospitals Foundation

Four months ago, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Wellington Children’s Hospital received an urgent call for help. A Wairarapa woman, just 24 weeks into her pregnancy, was bleeding heavily and required an emergency caesarean. Since Wairarapa Hospital is not able to adequately tend to such a premature delivery, it was down to the Wellington Hospital’s flight team to reach the mother and save her baby’s life.

Funded by generous donations by people like you, Wellington Children’s Hospitals Neonatal Transport system emulates the environment of a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. It was able to monitor and adjust the tiny, 600-gram baby’s temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, arterial blood gases, expiratory CO2 levels and oxygen saturation levels throughout the life-saving journey to hospital.

Upon landing at Wellington Regional Children’s Hospital, the transport incubator was wheeled straight into the neonatal unit. Thanks to this cutting-edge piece of equipment and specialist Neonatal Doctors and Nurses, the baby, despite arriving 16 weeks early, survived.

It’s because of these specialised services that extremely premature babies have greatly increased chances of survival. And, while Wellington Children’s Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is considered to be one of the best in Australasia, demand is increasing.

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Signs your ageing loved one needs assistance

Do you suspect your ageing parent, partner or other loved one might need professional care? Have you tried to broach the subject only to find they flat-out refuse to talk about it? Many people will find themselves in this precarious situation as their loved ones grow older, and while it can often seem impossible to find a solution, there are ways to go about it.

We spoke to Peter Scutt, Founder and CEO of Better Caring, a website where people who are ageing can find and directly hire care and support workers directly, about what to look out for and what to do if a loved one’s behaviour indicates they need assistance.

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Over60 community reveal the unexpected perks of retirement

Over60 native article for AustralianSuper

The prospect of leaving your career after decades of hard work can be a daunting one, but we’re here to show you why retirement is the beginning, not the end. From travelling and relaxing, to volunteering and bonding with loved ones, there are so many incredible reasons why retirement can be truly amazing.

We asked the Over60 community to share the most surprising perks of retirement. Here’s what you said was the best part of this exciting new chapter of life.

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6 new year’s resolutions that are extremely achievable

Over60 native article for AustralianSuper

A new year, a new you. That’s what we tell ourselves year after year, but do we ever actually stick to our new year’s resolutions? According to a survey by Finder.com.au, 58 per cent of Australians broke their resolutions. Interestingly, 37 per cent broke their resolution within just three months of the new year!

While there are many reasons for breaking a new year’s resolution – such as failing to keep track of progress or just downright forgetting about it – one of the most common mistakes people make is setting themselves a goal that is completely unrealistic.

So, to help you figure out what it is you want to achieve this year, we’ve got six new year’s resolutions that are not only simple but can make a big impact on your happiness.

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A quick guide to dentures

Over60 native article for Polident

Getting dentures – whether partial, complete, or temporary – can be incredibly freeing and confidence-boosting.

If you’re about to get dentures, or have already lived with them for years and simply want to pick up some new tips for their care, we’ve got a great guide to fitting, cleaning, storing and adapting to your dentures – and, most importantly, living comfortably with them.

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A pet could be the secret to happiness in retirement

Over60 native article for AustralianSuper

Anyone who grew up with a pet – or owns one today – will vouch for what an amazing addition they can make to the family. From encouraging us to get active to simply providing some much-appreciated love and company, furry friends can have a multitude of positive impacts on our lives – especially in retirement.

Sixty-five-year-old Over60 community member Barbara Easthope is one of many Australians who are reaping the rewards of pet ownership in retirement. In the time after making the sea change from Canberra to South Australia’s Copper Coast, Barbara and her husband sadly lost their two dogs and cats.

“We decided no more animals,” she explains. “They were a burden, an expense, and we didn’t want the pain of having to have ailing animals put down, and we were going to travel.”

However, she and her husband found that travelling – and caravanning in particular – wasn’t for them, and soon returned home and began considering the possibility of getting another pet.

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