Effective Anti-Ageing Lifestyle Choices for a Healthier Future

Effective Anti-Ageing Lifestyle Choices for a Healthier Future

Learn about natural anti-ageing through effective lifestyle choices. Discover how to live healthier for longer with these evidence based anti-ageing hacks.

You can’t stop the clock, so the saying goes, but humanity has spent a long time trying to slow down or even reverse the effects of aging.
Even today it can be hard to distinguish those measures that work from those that may not work and avoid those that may be downright dangerous! Fortunately, science- based public health research has some of the answers, so for some medically backed ways to stay healthy as you age- read on.

But first let’s look at mankind’s long history of trying to stop the clock, or at least slow it down a little. Anti-aging practices included the Egyptian queen Cleopatra bathing in donkey’s milk, 16th century French courtesans drinking suspended particles of gold, and the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon’s infamous quest for the legendary fountain of youth. Unfortunately, many of these measures weren’t successful and may have actually shortened rather than lengthened the live spans of those trying them.

Today the quest continues…

The quest for the fountain of youth has not ceased - it’s just taken other forms in today’s society. The anti-ageing market is ever expanding and expected to be more than $119.6 billion globally.i

American tech centimillionaire Bryan Johnson is a significant contributor to that figure, reportedly spending $2 million a year on a complex regime designed to reduce his biological age from 45 to 18, which includes injecting himself with his 17-year-old son’s plasma.

The truth is, aging is natural. Our bodies aren’t meant to stop aging entirely. But the good news is that there are some tried and true, medically proven ways to stave off many of the problems associated with aging and, in some cases, slow down the aging process. While none of these are groundbreaking discoveries, it’s worth keeping in mind that you don’t have to spend all your money or waking hours to stay healthy as you age.

Tips for living well and living long:

Move it!
That treadmill at the gym may not be a time machine but it can play a part in slowing down the clock. In fact, research showed that those who ran a minimum of 30-40 minutes, five days a week, had an almost nine-year “biological aging advantage” over those who lived a more sedentary lifestyle.”ii Doctors call physical exercise a “polypill” because it can prevent and treat many of the chronic diseases associated with aging and it’s never too late to start getting the benefits from regular exercise. Even a daily walk can do wonders!

Stress less
It’s no secret that being in a constant state of stress is wearying and can make you feel older than your biological age, but recently scientists confirmed that exposure to stress can cause inflammation and damage to DNA in cells, which in turn can accelerate aging.iii The good news is this can be reversed using stress busting techniques such as mindfulness meditation, breathing exercises and progressive muscle relaxation which can lead to improvements in various biological markers associated with aging.

Nourish yourself
While there is plenty of hype around the plethora of “superfoods” that are touted to possess anti-aging qualities there is no one food that will significantly impact the aging process and turn back the clock. However, the food and drink we put in our bodies day after day does make a difference to our health as we age. Research from the worlds “Blue Zones” - areas where people tend to reach the age of 100 - demonstrate the benefits of a relatively plant-focused diet consisting largely of vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes.iv

Maintain a positive mindset and embrace aging
Finally, it’s also worth considering that as we can’t beat the clock, we might as well accept, if not embrace, the gifts that come with age (wisdom and a longer-term perspective come to mind!).

And moving through life with a positive mindset about the aging process might also give you more days to enjoy. A study recently confirmed that those with a positive view of growing older lived seven years longer than those who complained about it.v

All in all, life is to be lived to the fullest and it’s precious because it’s finite. Do what makes you feel healthy and gives you joy now and that will also help you to enjoy life in the future.

i https://www.globenewswire.com/en/news-release/2022/03/29/2412093/0/en/Anti-aging-Market-Size-to-Worth-Around-US-119-6-Bn-by-2030.html
ii https://news.byu.edu/news/high-levels-exercise-linked-nine-years-less-aging-cellular-level
iii https://www.healthline.com/health-news/stress-can-increase-your-biological-age#How-stress-ages-the-body
iv https://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition/the-blue-zone-diet-a-complete-scientific-guide/
v https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12150226/

This article is intended as an information source only and to provide general information only. The comments, examples, words and extracts from legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice, financial or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. All readers should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this article to their particular situation.


Holiday Digital Detox: Unplugging for a Refreshing Break

Holiday Digital Detox: Unplugging for a Refreshing Break

Unplug for a refreshing break with our holiday digital detox guide. Find out how reducing screen time can lead to a more relaxing and rejuvenating holiday experience.

It’s nice to enjoy a break over the summer months. In fact, it’s an Aussie tradition - that mass exodus after Boxing Day that sees us head off for some well-earned rest and relaxation. However, it can be hard to unwind when we have a device in our pocket buzzing away every couple of minutes.

Even those who manage to resist taking work away with them and checking work emails while on holiday, can spend a lot of time on a digital device! And while you are glued to that device, chances are you are not ‘in the moment’ enjoying your time with family and friends fully or the delights of wherever you are vacationing.

Digital addiction

It’s not an overstatement to say that during our everyday lives we are glued to our devices. The average person spends around five and a half hours a day on their phone – that’s over two months over the course of a year!i

We also tend to check our phones on average around 8 times an hour - almost once every 8 minutes. And just over half of Aussies (50.65%) consider themselves addicted to their phones.ii Throw in the amount of time we spend on tablets, laptops and other devices and it’s clear we generally spend a lot of time in front of a screen.

A vacationing trend

A new trend that may help to curb our online addictions is known as a ‘digital detox’ holiday.

Resorts and lifestyle destinations have got on board and many offer wellness packages offering a respite from the fast pace of online life with no phones, texts, emails, social media use or web browsing for the duration of your stay.

You don’t have to fly off to an internet black spot or sign up for a digital detox retreat to get the benefits though. Doing your own digital detox can be as simple as switching your phone to airplane mode or better still turning your devices off for a designated time every day or for a period of time.

Breaking free

The benefits of getting away from a screen, even if it’s just for a short break, are numerous but the main benefit of having a proper digital detox is reducing stress. If your phone or tablet isn't buzzing, beeping or vibrating in your pocket or hand every few minutes, you start to breathe deeper and slow down.

Another plus of having a break from your device is the way it can affect the quality of your interactions with others. If you are not staring at a screen you open up opportunities to engage more fully with those around you. That means better quality time connecting with friends and family.

If you are a solo traveller, it can be challenging to not have the safety blanket of a phone in your hand, however there is something special about being more aware of your surroundings and taking in the little moments as they happen, without distractions.

Open to offline discovery

While tech can certainly make travel smoother in many ways, going phone free can open up opportunities for discovery. While it’s tempting to grab your phone to check the Google score of every restaurant you pass or using Maps to locate local attractions, it can be satisfying stumbling across a great little eating place tucked away down a laneway or finding a wonderful local market on your travels.

And when it comes to sharing your discoveries, you could also try keeping it offline. Instead of snapping moments to share immediately on social media, knowing you are going to be constantly distracted checking how your posts are being received, try to treasure those moments as they happen.

Whether you digitally detox for a few hours a day, a few days, or the duration of the holidays, your vacation will benefit from you unplugging for a bit. And who knows, you may even find some of your good digital detoxing habits follow you into the New Year.

i, ii https://www.reviews.org/au/mobile/2022-mobile-phone-usage-statistics/

This article is intended as an information source only and to provide general information only. The comments, examples, words and extracts from legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice, financial or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. All readers should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this article to their particular situation.


Destinations to fire up your passions

Destinations to fire up your passions

The world is an amazing place, with so much to see and do. In fact, sometimes it can feel as though there is so much to experience it can be quite a challenge selecting a destination, but if you follow your heart and explore your passions when planning a trip you can’t go wrong.

Considering the plethora of amazing places and experiences our world has to offer, it’s a shame that many people, overwhelmed by choice, stick to going back to places they have visited before. In fact, a poll conducted in the US confirmed that three out of four people always go back to the same places.i

If you are keen to avoid the ‘same old, same old’ but short on ideas, it can help to think not of where you want to go, but what you want to do. One travel trend that’s not going away any time soon is the desire for genuine experiences. Just look at Airbnb – in addition to being an accommodation platform it now offers a massive range of around 41,000 ‘experiences’ across 93 countries and more than 2000 cities.ii

So, what do you look for when there is a big wide world out there with so much to see and do? Think about what you and your travelling companions love.

If you have a ‘need for speed’

The Tour de France is known as the greatest race on Earth. The endurance needed to ride over 100kms a day for three weeks across some of the world’s most physically challenging terrain, is incredible. Every year spectators line the routes to be part of the atmosphere and it’s even possible to hop on a bike and experience some of the stages for yourself.

If you prefer the roar of engines and the smell of burning rubber and high-octane fuel, maybe the Monaco Grand Prix is for you. With a course that is the most difficult on the F1 circuit winding through the streets of the city, it’s certainly a race like no other.

Closer to home, another race like no other is the Alice Springs Camel Cup. The antics of the notoriously unpredictable dromedaries and their riders makes for a hilarious day out.

If you want to marvel at our natural world

The famous Bandhavgarh National Park in central India is a stunning wildlife destination where you have the best chance out of anywhere in the world to spot a wild Bengal Tiger.

And if you want to stay in Australia, head to Ningaloo Reef in WA where you can snorkel with the gentle giants of the shark world – whale sharks, which can measure up to a massive 10 metres.

If you’re an adrenaline junkie

Get your pulse racing with white river rafting on the Colorado River, passing through the iconic Grand Canyon or fly down the fastest zip line in the world in Wales at an eye-watering 200 km/h.

Or for an amazing local experience, walk along the harbour bridge in Sydney on one of the world’s longest bridge climbs and gaze out on an unparalleled view of the iconic harbour.

If you like to sample fine wine

For the wine buffs – not for nothing is Bordeaux France, is considered by many to be the world’s foremost region for wine. If you need to narrow the field a little further, the vineyards of Saint Emilion were the first to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

And Australia is no slouch in the wine stakes either, with the Baross Valley in SA widely considered Australia's preeminent wine region, famous for its Shiraz.

If you were born to shop

In terms of sheer variety and abundance of styles and shops, New York City is the shopping Mecca that dreams are made of. Or fossick for exotic treasure in Istanbul's Grand Bazaar, the world’s oldest and largest undercover market.
On a smaller scale, but closer to home, Salamanca Market in Tasmania is a vibrant streetscape of the state's finest artisan products.

With so many amazing experiences to be had, think about how you like to spend your time to come up with an itinerary that will tick all your boxes whether you want to race, explore, sip, or shop.

i https://nypost.com/2022/09/20/americans-say-they-vacation-in-the-same-places-poll/
ii https://tourpreneur.com/few-airbnb-experiences-generate-significant-revenue-according-to-the-latest-arival-research/

This article is intended as an information source only and to provide general information only. The comments, examples, words and extracts from legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice, financial or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. All readers should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this article to their particular situation.


Australia's Electric Vehicle Boom: What You Need to Know

Australia's Electric Vehicle Boom: What You Need to Know

The Australian automotive industry is in the midst of a seismic shift, with electric vehicles (EVs) leading the charge. As EVs begin to overtake petrol cars in sales, we dissect the implications for the industry, the environment, and consumers. This move towards sustainable transportation has been brewing for years, and it's now hitting its stride.

The rise in popularity of electric vehicles has been a gradual but significant journey. While electric vehicles may just be giving petrol driven cars a run for their money now, the technology has been around for centuries. The first electric cars appeared on roads as early as the 19th century, however internal combustion engines, fuelled by petrol, took off shortly after this in the 1920s and quickly became the power source of choice for cars.i

Growing in popularity

While at present internal combustion engines still dominate passenger vehicle sales in most categories, that’s changing – mainly in the medium car space. Remarkably, new figures from the Australian Automobile Association reveal that three out of every five new medium-sized cars sold in Australia in the first quarter of the year were electric.ii

And in general, the popularity of electric vehicles is surging, with year-to-date sales totalling 32,050 – increasing in 12 months by a staggering 778.3 per cent.iii

Market share is likely to continue to grow. The main barrier to entry has to date been primarily cost but with new more cost-effective models flooding the market, electric vehicles are becoming even more accessible. Another consumer concern was the perceived lack of power in electric vehicles compared to traditional petrol cars. However, newer models are dispelling this myth with impressive performance. The latest edition to the Queensland police force’s fleet is electric and is being hailed as their most powerful car yet.iv

Financial Benefits of Electric Vehicles

So, what are the considerations if you are thinking of making your next car an electric vehicle? Electric vehicles are significantly cheaper to run, offering fuel savings of up to 70 per cent and maintenance savings of around 40 per cent compared to a standard petrol or diesel vehicle. For an average car travelling 13,700 km per year, this could amount to an annual fuel saving of $1000, or $1200 if the EV is able to charge overnight on an off-peak tariff.

Electric vehicles are also much cheaper to maintain, with less moving parts than a petrol or diesel car. There is relatively little servicing and no expensive exhaust systems, starter motors, fuel injection systems, radiators and many other parts that are not needed in an electric vehicle.

The benefit to the environment, health and the economy

The benefits of electric vehicles are broad-ranging and have the potential to impact our personal health, the health of our environment and the economy. Breathing in the contaminants from motor vehicles is implicated in a range of health problems and transport is a significant contributor to Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. And the potential benefits for our economy in terms of reduced greenhouse gas emissions, less air and water pollution, and less vehicle noise are estimated to equate to almost $500 billion over the next 30 years.v

Practical Considerations for Electric Vehicle Ownership

While electric vehicles offer numerous benefits on both a personal and broader scale, potential buyers should also consider certain practical aspects.

One of the biggest issues with electric vehicles is the fact that they need charging quite regularly, generally having a charging range of around 80-100kms. This limitation may mean an electric car is great as a runabout but might not be so suitable if you are regularly travelling longer distances.

Then there are the practicalities of charging your vehicle. New electric vehicles come with a dedicated charger which is usually mounted on the garage wall. You also need to make sure you have access to charging infrastructure while you are out and about so it’s a good idea to check what is available close to you and be aware of likely charging times.

There are a few factors that you need to consider, but electric cars are certainly here to stay and becoming ever more popular so it’s worth thinking about going electric for your next vehicle purchase.

i https://discover.agl.com.au/energy/why-buy-an-electric-car/
ii https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/first-past-the-post-evs-race-to-front-in-sales-of-medium-sized-cars-20230420-p5d1yj.html
iii https://www.whichcar.com.au/news/vfacts-may-2023-best-selling-electric-cars-australia
iv https://thewest.com.au/news/transport/most-powerful-queensland-police-car-will-be-electric-c-11045915
v https://www.acf.org.au/electric-vehicles-are-our-zero-emissions-future

This article is intended as an information source only and to provide general information only. The comments, examples, words and extracts from legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice, financial or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. All readers should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this article to their particular situation.


Sleep Your Way to Success: The Underrated Key to Productivity

Sleep Your Way to Success: The Underrated Key to Productivity

Don't underestimate the power of sleep. Find out how getting enough ZZZ's can boost your productivity, enhance your health, and pave the way for success.

Who claims that less sleep leads to more achievement? Not science!

To be fair, there are many successful people who credit their success to managing or indeed thriving, on a few hours' sleep so they can get more done. Martha Stewart, the American media personality, sleeps around four hours a night, stating: “Sleep is not the most important thing.” While Thomas Edison, the inventor of the electric light, kept the lights on – rejecting the idea of sleeping at night for napping for 15 minutes every four hours.

The Intricate Science Behind Sleep

The idea that successful people don’t sleep is an odd one, when you consider the science.

Scientists have long theorised about why we need to sleep. The most respected theories see sleep consisting of restorative processes that occur when normal brain function is partially suspended, and brain activity suggests information is being “replayed” during certain stages of sleep to consolidate memory.

A good night’s sleep

Considering that sleep is as vital as food and oxygen, how much sleep do we truly need?

While there may be some individuals who function ok on just a few hours' sleep, it’s thought that most adults need between 6- and 9-hour’s sleep for optimal health and wellbeing. On average, we manage less than six.i

It looks like those successful people who “humble boast” about how little sleep they get, might be in fact jeopardising their success by missing the benefits of a good night’s sleep.ii

The Detrimental Effects of Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation has a powerful impact on your thought processes so it’s quite ironic that there are those who credit their success in part to sleeping less than the recommended amount.

Sleep duration and quality impacts more than just the obvious things like your mood and clarity of thought. Inadequate sleep can compromise decision-making processes, impact creative thought and the retention of information.

Sleep plays a critical role in maintaining our physical health. Sleep deficiency is linked to many chronic health problems, including heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, and obesity.

Strategies for Achieving a Better Night's Sleep

If you are one of those ‘too busy to sleep’ people, it might be time to prioritise restful sleep. And if you are tossing and turning at night there is a lot you can do to get a better night’s sleep.

To sleep well, the most important thing you can do is set the scene to easily drift off to sleep and then stay asleep. That means making sure your sleeping environment is comfortable, quiet, and dark. Exposure to light, particularly light from screens like your phone or computer at night-time can mess up the body’s production of a hormone called melatonin that helps us to fall asleep, and sleeping in a room that is not very dark is not conducive to quality sleep - so close those blinds and turn off those devices.

Setting yourself up for a good night sleep can also involve a combination of deep breathing, relaxation, and creative visualisation techniques. This infamous sleep ‘hack’ is used by the US military to help soldiers in the field get to sleep involving these practices is considered amazingly effective, if practiced regularly.iii

Going to bed at the same time every night can also help establish good sleep habits and not eating too late at night, and avoiding stimulants like alcohol and caffeine late in the day will also improve your sleep quality.

Securing a good night’s sleep is a stepping-stone on your path to success. By making some easy tweaks to your routine you’ll be sleeping like a baby and feeling more alert and productive as a result. Goodnight and sleep well!

i https://pilot.com.au/co-pilot/6-hours-sleep
ii https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6281147/
iii https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/military-sleep-method-asleep-anywhere_uk

This article is intended as an information source only and to provide general information only. The comments, examples, words and extracts from legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice, financial or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. All readers should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this article to their particular situation.

 


Retirement Planning in Australia: Cultivate Your Happiness Now and Later

Retirement Planning Australia: Cultivate Your Happiness Now and Later

Retirement in Australia can be a fulfilling journey if planned well. Learn how to cultivate your interests now for a happier, more satisfying retirement.

Retirement is a phase when we finally have the freedom to pursue our passions and interests, whether that’s travel, developing and learning new skills, taking up hobbies or just enjoying the company of those we care about.

The issue with waiting until retirement is that we delay the joy and satisfaction we could be experiencing presently. Exploring what gives us joy now and developing those skills will make for a much easier transition as you wave goodbye to your working years.

Something to retire to

Retirement represents a big shift in the way we live our lives and it’s not uncommon for that adjustment to be a little challenging. For many, our jobs give us a profound sense of identity and define how we perceive ourselves, so our sense of self can suffer when we leave the workforce. There is also often a gap in our lives where work used to be.

So instead of merely retiring from something, it's often advised to 'have something to retire to' is a common piece of advice to encourage people to think about what they want their life to look like when they leave the workforce.

Think about what defines you now and satisfies you outside of work, and putting in place a plan of how that may play out in retirement can be a good idea.

Begin Today: Pursue Your Passions

While it can be hard to carve out time while you are still in the workforce, it’s possible to take small steps and set aside dedicated time each week or commit to activities that won’t take a lot of your time.

If you are keen to travel when you retire, consider signing up for a short course in the language of the country you are keen on visiting to get prepared for the trip of your dreams.

Or if you want to finally write that novel you’ve been mulling over for years, set aside a little time now to draft a framework and get a head start. Who knows by the time you retire you may be on your second novel!

Keen to do more exercise? Join a gym now and get into a routine - even if you only manage to get there a couple of times a week it’s a good start.

It takes a while to develop new habits and skills so starting to pick up the things you want to explore in retirement now sets you up for a smoother transition when you have more time to devote to these activities. Starting now also gives you a chance to try things out and see if they are something you want to commit time and energy to.

Cultivate Relationships: Connect with Loved Ones

While spending time doing things you love makes for a happy and satisfying retirement, another important factor is being around people you enjoy being with.

Think about the people you enjoy spending time with and foster those friendships right now. Not only will it make for an easier transition when you retire, it will also bring you joy and the benefits of those relationships right now. There is always room in your life for making new friends too!

Embrace Flexibility: Even the Best Plans Can Change

It’s important to be open minded in your plan of how you see your retirement unfolding. Remember that not everyone retires on their own terms. Some need to retire sooner than expected or in a different manner than expected due to ill health, caring for a family member or because of a decision or situation in the workplace.

On that basis it’s important to live well now – enjoy your present life and embrace the things that make you happy as you’ll also be setting yourself up to enjoy retirement – whether it’s just around the corner or still a way off.

This article is intended as an information source only and to provide general information only. The comments, examples, words and extracts from legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice, financial or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. All readers should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this article to their particular situation.


Getting your bounce back

Getting your bounce back

Life is pretty frantic, and it is common to feel like it’s a struggle to keep up the pace. In fact, feeling exhausted is so common that it has its own acronym, TATT, which stands for "tired all the time".

While it’s somewhat comforting to know you’re not alone, it’s certainly not a nice feeling, so let’s look at some of the best ways to get some bounce back into your step.

Watch what you take on

One of the first and most obvious things is to look at your busy lifestyle and see if something has to give.

Don’t be afraid to decline invitations if you are feeling overcommitted, in particular say no to the things that are a drain on you physically or emotionally. No one can be busy 100% of the time and it’s important to ensure you have a little downtime to just do sweet nothing - even if you need to schedule it into your calendar!

As you manage your time think about what is most important to you and prioritise things that make you happy and give you energy.

Catching some zzzz’s

Of course, the most powerful downtime, is getting a good night’s sleep. If you are not a great sleeper making some small tweaks to your evening routine can help. Anything you can do to wind down, be it having a hot bath or reading a book, is great for getting in the right zone for a restful night’s sleep.

Avoiding screen time for an hour or two before bed is beneficial as the blue light from laptops and phones is known to trick your brain into thinking it’s still daytime. This reduces hormones like melatonin, which help you relax and get deep sleep.

And while caffeine may be your friend if you are feeling a little lacklustre, it’s not ideal to have caffeine after 3-4pm if you want to have a good night’s sleep.

Stress less to recharge your batteries

Winding down can be easier said than done, however – often we don’t even realise how stressed we are until it gets to a point where it creates a problem for us.

Being in a constantly anxious state is draining. Our body is sending messages to put us on high alert – the fight or flight response – which is fine for short periods of time, but when it’s constant our batteries get drained pretty quickly.

Simple practices like deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation can be very effective in reducing stress and improving energy and don’t have to take a lot of time or effort.

The right fuel for sustained energy

No amount of relaxation or rest is going to help, if we are not giving our bodies the best fuel for energy. We can't expect to perform at our peak if we are running on fumes, which is where a balanced diet and hydration are key. Sugar in particular, is a culprit in giving you a burst of energy and then a crash, so instead of reaching for that chocolate bar mid-afternoon, try a handful of nuts or a banana for an energy boost.

Another easy tweak is to make sure you are drinking enough water. Just putting a jug in easy reach on your desk can be enough to have you humming along through the day.

Get your body moving for an energy boost

The last thing you probably feel like doing if you feel exhausted is to pop on your running shoes or go out for a brisk walk, but getting your blood pumping and your heart beating fast is a great way to shake off the cobwebs and boost your energy. It’s important to listen to your body and pace yourself but expanding energy is a great way to create more energy!

Life is to be lived and making some tweaks to your lifestyle and routine might just help you get that boost you need to enjoy life to the fullest.

Note: It’s important to also consider that chronic tiredness can have a medical cause, so be sure and see your doctor if you have any concerns about your overall health.

This article is intended as an information source only and to provide general information only. The comments, examples, words and extracts from legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice, financial or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. All readers should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this article to their particular situation.


Star_ratings_for_Aged_Care_help_make_family_choices_easier

New star ratings for Aged Care help make family choices easier

New star ratings for Aged Care help make family choices easier

Moving into aged care can be a challenging time, both for those making the move and families supporting their loved ones. It's understandable that everyone wants to find the most suitable accommodation and the appropriate standard of care, however, it can be confusing to make that choice.

A new star rating system for aged care is giving existing and potential residents and their families helpful insight into the quality and staffing levels of an aged care facility.

Four key performance areas covering residents’ experience, staffing levels, compliance and quality measures are each given an individual star rating. These ratings are then combined to provide an overall rating which is made public on the My Aged Care website.

For many people this will be the most consistent measure of whether aged care accommodation meets independent requirements for a good, average or poor facility.

A one-star rating indicates significant improvement needed; two stars indicates improvement needed; three stars indicates an acceptable quality of care; four stars indicates a good quality of care and a five star rating indicates an excellent quality of care.

There has been one round of ratings revealed since the system was launched in December 2022, with about one-third of the 2,700 aged care facilities in Australia receiving four or five stars, two thirds receiving three stars and one-in-10 receiving one or two stars.

How care is measured

Staffing levels in aged care are always of interest. With no staff ratios in aged care, the focus is on ‘care minutes’ provided by registered nurses, enrolled nurses and personal care workers.

A new funding model - in place from 1 October 2022- requires aged care facilities to meet a minimum average care minute target of 200 minutes a day, including 40 minutes registered nurse time. This target will become mandatory from 1 October 2023, and increase to 215 minutes, including 44 registered nurse minutes, from 1 October 2024.

Quality measures

The five crucial areas of care that go into determining the quality star rating include pressure injuries, physical restraint, unplanned weight loss, falls and major injury, and medication management.

The data is collected quarterly, with zero-star ratings given to providers who fail to report on each area.

The compliance rating, which is the responsibility of the existing Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, provides information on the extent to which a residential aged care service is meeting its responsibilities.

A service that receives a one star compliance rating (which would occur if it was sanctioned or found to be punishing anyone who complained to the Commission) will receive an overall one star rating, regardless of how they perform in other sub-categories. Services that receive a two star compliance rating (if they were issued a compliance notice under the current system) cannot receive an overall star rating higher than two stars, regardless of how they perform in other sub-categories.

Resident experiences

A resident’s experience of a facility carries the highest weighting towards the overall star rating.

To understand the experience of residents, 12 questions are asked, for example - ‘do staff treat you with respect’, do you feel safe here’, ‘do you get the care you need’, and ‘are the staff kind and caring’. Responses can vary from never to always.

At least 10 per cent of older Australians living in residential aged care will be interviewed face-to-face about their overall experience at their residential aged care home by a third-party vendor each year.

Anyone currently living in or considering a facility with a low rating should feel empowered to ask what management is going to do about improving things.

Be informed

The star ratings are a recommendation of the Aged Care Royal Commission to better inform people living in or considering moving into residential aged care and to provide greater transparency in an effort to lift the overall standards.

They will become an increasingly important tool in the planning and decision-making process.

Give us a call to help you or a loved one plan for current and future needs.

This article is intended as an information source only and to provide general information only. The comments, examples, words and extracts from legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice, financial or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. All readers should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this article to their particular situation.


Trust Your Gut to Boost Health

Trust your gut to boost your health

Trust Your Gut to Boost Health

Trust your gut to boost your health

Gut health has become one of the hottest health topics in recent years as we have started to learn about the complex connection between gut health and overall health. So why is gut health so important and how can we support and boost our own microbiomes?

Firstly, what exactly is a microbiome? The human microbiome consists of the trillions of fungi, bacteria, viruses, and other organisms harboured by each person, primarily in the gut. So prevalent are these critters, we are more microbiome than human. The approximately 30 trillion cells in an adult body are a little outnumbered by the around 39 trillion cells in the tiny organisms that comprise your microbiome.i

Not only are we outnumbered, we are also only just learning about the importance of our microbiome and how these trillions of bacteria and other microbes work together to affect functions as diverse as digestion, immunity, heart function, and even mental health.

Our guts do so much more than digest our food

For years, experts have suspected a connection between gut health and heart health. Recent research has found that changes in certain types of gut bacteria are associated with high blood pressure, lower levels of “good” cholesterol, heart disease and even events like heart attacks and strokes. Scientists currently think this has to do with the compounds gut bacteria produce when they break down certain foods. Having the wrong balance of bugs may mean more by-products which can raise cholesterol and injure blood vessels.

There is also a strong association between our immune system and gut health. It is estimated that 70-80% of the body’s immune system is in the gut, working to ensure that the body is eliminating any harmful pathogens that it encounters.ii

While we have long known that how we feel can affect our guts - think of ‘butterflies in our stomach’ when we are nervous or ‘gut wrenching’ when we hear bad news - but scientists are learning more about the complex connection between our gut biome and our mental health. For a long time, researchers thought anxiety and depression contributed to digestive issues, but studies are showing that irritation in the gastrointestinal system may send signals to the brain to trigger mood changes.

While we still have much to learn about how the gut impacts other parts of the body, growing evidence is pointing to the importance of looking after your gut biome - so how do we do that?

What is good for the gut?

If you pop ‘gut health’ into a search engine, you’ll be bewildered by the amount of information (and some disinformation!) available online. Here are a few science-backed things that we know support good gut health.iii

  • Eating a plant-based diet including a range of wholefoods with lots of soluble fibre (oats, seeds and certain fruit and veggies)
  • Incorporating fermented foods into your diet - think kimchi, miso, kombucha
  • Vitamin D – we don’t need a lot of outside time to keep up our vitamin D levels (and it’s important to be sun safe) but vitamin D has been proven to be an important part of gut health.
  • Water (hydration helps keep the gut healthy!)
  • Moving your body – the recommendation is 30-60 minutes of moderate exercise at least three days a week.

What to avoid?

And of course, it’s not just what we can do to promote good gut health, but also what we can avoid to help support a positive gut biome.

On that note, stress has been found to have a very detrimental impact on gut health as does too much fatty and processed foods. Too much sugar in your diet can also be a contributor to poor gut health and alcohol has also been shown to be a culprit when it comes to your gut.

You don’t have to overhaul your diet and lifestyle though - even small tweaks will help you support a happy and healthy gut biome and reap the benefits to your physical, and even mental health.

https://www.sciencefocus.com/the-human-body/human-microbiome/
ii https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33803407/
iii https://www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/be-healthy/how-to-improve-your-gut-health

 

This article is intended as an information source only and to provide general information only. The comments, examples, words and extracts from legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice, financial or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. All readers should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this article to their particular situation.


Raising resilient kids

Building Resilience in Kids

Building Resilience in Kids

Raising kids who can cope with life's challenges is key for their future success. This article explains what resilience is, why it's important, and how to help kids develop this crucial skill. Keep reading to to learn how you can support your kids in building resilience.

The term ‘helicopter’ parenting has been bandied around a bit in recent years and refers to parents hovering over their children, with this well-meaning hyper vigilance aimed to keep them out of harm’s way. The problem with this style of parenting is that it can lead to children being so shielded from life’s mishaps that they don’t develop coping mechanisms.

It’s important for kids to learn how to cope when things don’t go well and deal with the big emotions that accompany life’s problems. After all, life only tends to get more challenging as we move from childhood into adulthood, and with the ability to bounce back more important than ever, by actively helping your kids develop resilience, you’ll be setting them up with important skills for life.

What is resilience?

Although the term ‘resilience’ is talked about a lot, it’s not always well understood. Resilience is not about putting on a brave face in an unfortunate situation or developing such a thick skin that we learn not to care about what happens to us. Resilience is the ability to acknowledge a challenging situation or negative event, employ coping strategies, and rebound to feel okay again. That does not mean that you don’t react or feel strong emotions, just that you are able to recover and continue on with your life.

This can be a lot easier said than done for us grown-ups with all our life experiences and coping skills that we can draw upon, but it can be particularly challenging for little ones, teens and even young adults.

How do we help our kids foster resilience?

The good news is that resilience is a skill that can be learned and built upon and when we help our kids, we as grown-ups can become more resilient too!

Each day, our kids are internalising messages about the world and their place in it and that inevitably includes exposure to stressors. However, that’s not all bad. Gradual exposure to stress, at manageable levels, actually helps children become more resilient. Their brains are encoding each experience, whether it’s minor like handing in homework late or more significant like being bullied.

Each experience they have creates new neural pathways to help them in future situations and assist them to develop their own coping mechanisms they can call upon in future.

A helping hand

There is one key thing that can help build resilience and that’s the role of supportive adults in children's lives. To help kids navigate problems and bounce back from setbacks it helps to consider the following framework.

The “Three C’s”:

Connection: Children who feel a sense of connection with others are more equipped to handle problems. We connect with our kids when we spend time with them - giving them our full and present attention, listening to their hopes and fears and feeling their joy, and their sadness.

Consistency: Children need a foundation of consistency to be in the best possible place to cope with change. This can take many forms and could include consistency of routine, location or relationships. Establishing, and committing to threads of consistency in your child’s life anchors them as other pieces shift and move and provides a sense of stability in an uncertain world.

Comfort: A big dose of comfort when needed can help a child to be more courageous. Knowing that someone has their back and is there to comfort them when they fall can empower a child to take risks.

We can’t always wrap our children in cotton wool and prevent them from experiencing unpleasant situations – but we can do our best to equip them to deal with difficulties and be there to help when they need a guiding hand.

This article is intended as an information source only and to provide general information only. The comments, examples, words and extracts from legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice, financial or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. All readers should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this article to their particular situation.