Photo Of The Day

Photographer: Kenneth O’Halloran

Photographer: Kenneth O’Halloran

Living with Alzheimer’s

 Angel, Dioni and Cristina exhausted, doze in the living room.

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Bad news for Tisch and Woodhouse


There is some bad news just in Short Man Syndrome if left untreated leads to dementia and death.

It really is bad news for Lindsay Tisch and Michael Woodhouse.

Short men are more likely to die from dementia than taller men, scientists have found, in the first ever study to link height with mental decline in old age.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh found that men who were 5ft 5 inches or shorter were 50 per cent more likely to develop, and die from dementia, that those who were 5ft 8 inches or taller.

The academics think that height is an important indicator of developmental difficulties in childhood, such as stress, illness and poor nutrition.

They warn that lifelong damage can take place while the body is growing which may not be apparent until much later in life and suggest that breakfast clubs, vaccination programmes and improved parenting schemes could help tackle the growing dementia timebomb.

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In times of trouble you find out who your real friends are, often they are the ‘enemy’

I can relate to this:

Barry Cohen is a lovely man and as a Hawke Government Minister summed up the best of Labor – compassionate but practical, romantic but no dreamer, improver not revolutionary. Add, of course, he’s a man with great faith in Western civllisation.

He today writes that he has dementia and has had had to move into a nursing home:

When word got out that I had joined the list of dementia sufferers one of the first calls I had was from an old “friend”.

“A Mr Howard calling,” was the message from the nurse.

“I don’t know a Mr Howard, unless it’s the former prime minister.”

“That’s the one,” said the nurse.

I was deeply moved that a lifelong opponent had taken the trouble to ring to find out how I was and whether he could do anything to help. After a lengthy conversation, I told him, “This is what makes Australia a great country.”

Great men and women help make a great country. You’ve just heard about two of them.

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Tweet of the Day


Scoop huh?

You mean those  real journalists?   Or you mean the Internet Party guy?  I forget.   Read more »

Winston Peters and his own conflicts of interest

Jan Trotman and Winston Peters

Jan Trotman and Winston Peters

Winston Peters is always the first to claim that other members of parliament have conflicts of interest and last week was front and centre in whipping up a storm over a glass of milk.

WOBH can exclusively reveal that Winston Peters has his own conflicts of interest, some going back many years.

Some basic facts first so that what is revealed can be put into context.

  • Winston Peters long time partner is Jan Trotman.
  • From 1993-2006 Ms Trotman was General Manager of Janssen, Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson and Johnson.
  • During this period, Winston Peters and other members of his caucus asked many very specific questions in relation to the pharmaceutical industry regarding Pharmac funding and in particular in relation to Janssen products.

Here is the evidence.

In October 2001 Winston Peters asked in Question 4 what reasons there are for not publicly funding a range of other drugs and treat Alzheimer’s disease other than with the Aricept drug. He further asks why is it that Exelon has also been on Australia’s publicly funded pharmaceutical benefit scheme list since February 2001, and Reminyl (a Janssen product) is to be added from tomorrow, while New Zealanders suffer not having the benefits of these drugs.

In 2003 he asks more questions (Q9 ) on these Alzheimer’s drugs in the House about why the government was doing a trial on the efficacy of Alzheimer’s drugs when they have been proven and are publicly funded in other first world countries.

9. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Prime Minister: Does she have confidence in the Minister of Health; if so, why?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK (Prime Minister) : Yes, because she is a hard-working and conscientious Minister.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: If she is such a hard-working and conscientious Minister, why is she a Minister who says that the efficacy of Alzheimer’s drugs has not been proven, when Canada, UK, Australia, USA, Latin America, and Western Europe all make those drugs publicly available; or is this just another example of inexcusable, inexplicable, heartless cost-cutting?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: No, none of the above. This country has very careful mechanisms for assessing what drugs it is appropriate to fund, and I am not aware that those mechanisms and procedures have changed substantially in recent years, at all.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why does the Prime Minister not inform herself of the facts before she rises and makes a statement like that, when Canada, UK, Australia, USA, Latin America, and Western Europe—nearly all the First World—recognise that those drugs do work, and make them publicly available, whilst her Minister is demanding that Pharmac do a trial to find out what everybody else in the world knows and is prepared to spend money on, excepting her heartless Government and Minister?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I can only repeat that getting value for money is very important, and that does not mean paying any price for any drug that a pharmaceutical company wants.

Dr Lynda Scott: Is the Prime Minister aware that these drugs are the only treatment available to patients with Alzheimer’s, and why will they not be funded?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I suggest the member put down a question on notice with specific reference to the question of Alzheimer’s drugs. It is this Government’s determination to provide proper treatment for people across the range of conditions. It is also a fact that we consider health sufficiently important to have it as a front-bench portfolio.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Prime Minister might think that health is important enough to have it has a front-bench portfolio, but being informed about it is not what she is demonstrating today. She should not—having attempted to answer two questions already—then pretend that she has adequately answered this House by suggesting that the member “put down a written question”. She has been asked why the only drug proven worldwide is being denied to the thousands of sufferers in this country, and—   Read more »

Sleep…I need it…Now

I am in desperate need of sleep after having ridden the wave this week…I’ve survived on less than 3 hours sleep a night and it is wearing me down.

Sleep is important as this article in the Guardian explains.

Scientists in the US claim to have a new explanation for why we sleep: in the hours spent slumbering, a rubbish disposal service swings into action that cleans up waste in the brain.

Through a series of experiments on mice, the researchers showed that during sleep, cerebral spinal fluid is pumped around the brain, and flushes out waste products like a biological dishwasher.  Read more »

An email about the Euthanasia Bill

Earlier I blogged about Labour’s squeamishness over euthanasia despite the members bill from Maryan Street.

A reader emails about her experience.

Hi Cam …

Thank you for your comments re Maryan Street’s bill, popularly being called her “euthanasia bill”, a term that is going to attract some strong opposition. My understanding is that it’s “voluntary euthanasia”, a term that takes the scariness out of it … right?  I also understand that there will be very strict rules around the application of the law  … but already anticipate the headlines in the Herald which will be based on alarmist views !!  Read more »

Change your Diet, Trev

New research has discovered a possible solution to Trevor’s well known issues with dementia. All Trevor has to do is change his diet, it’s not too late:

Researchers have discovered a link between low vitamin C, beta-carotene levels and dementia, meaning antioxidant rich fruit and veg – such as spinach, carrots and apricots – could help fight the disease’s devastating symptoms.

German scientists looked at the differences between 74 people with mild Alzheimer’s disease and 158 healthy subjects.

The participants, between 65 and 90 years of age, underwent neuropsychological testing, answered questions about their lifestyle and had their blood examined and their body mass index calculated.

The team including epidemiologist Professor Gabriele Nagel and neurologist Professor Christine von Arnim found the serum-concentration of the antioxidants vitamin C and beta-carotene were significantly lower in patients with mild dementia than in control group.

There was no such difference between the groups in levels of other antioxidants including vitamin E, lycopene, coenzyme Q10.

Dr Nagel said although more studies were needed to confirm the results, the findings suggested fruits and vegetables could play a role in fighting the disease.

“Longitudinal studies with more participants are necessary to confirm the result that vitamin C and beta-carotene might prevent the onset and development of Alzheimer’s disease”, said Dr Nagel, of the University of Ulm.

“Vitamin C can for example be found in citrus fruits; beta-carotene in carrots, spinach or apricots.”

Alzheimer’s disease symptoms including forgetfulness, lack of orientation and cognitive decline are caused by alterations in the brain including amyloid-beta-plaques, degeneration of fibrillae and a loss of synapses.

Take note Trev, help is at hand

Jami-lee Ross highlighted the growing problem of early onset dementia amongst our parliamentarians. But there is hope for the Trevor Mallard’s of this world:

Dementia in New Zealand is a growing issue as the generation known as the baby boomers – anyone born between 1946 and 1964 – heads towards old age.

But research shows that more than half of cases remain undiagnosed, and that’s something Alzheimer’s New Zealand hopes to change with a new campaign it has launched today.

It has been 12 years since Eileen Smith lost her husband Ray at just 54 years old to the cruel and incurable disease that is dementia.

“He’s been my rock, if you like, and I guess there’s many days I feel I’m lost at sea,” says Ms Smith. “I don’t quite know where to go now.”

Around 48,000 Kiwis have the illness and many more cases go undiagnosed.

“A lot of people who get muddled or confused or anxious, people misdiagnose or diagnose it as depression, treat it as depression, to start with, and then realise even when the depression is better the confusion is still there,” says Dr Chris Perkins, old age psychiatrists.

Today, Alzheimer’s New Zealand is launching a campaign to raise awareness of the disease and highlight the importance of early detection.

If you suspect someone you or someone you love is showing signs of Alzheimer’s disease, talk to your doctor, says the organisation.

Labour – Drowning In A Duck Pond Of Strategy

You have to laugh at all the excitable boffins in the Labour Party running around trying to create “plans”, strategy” and “vision”. They have been doing it for so long now that it implies very firmly that they had nothing that was any good in the first place and need a total change.

They talked endlessly, they changed Leader, nothing.  They tried to get good media, nothing.  Just yesterday Mike Smith was resorting to talking up paid right-wing shill Matthew Hooton from his performance on Radio New Zealand, about Labour strategy.  They are desperate to discuss everything yet do absolutely nothing.

If a publicly listed company dithered with consultation, leadership issues and had this much internal mayhem it would have already suffered from de-listing.

Again even today, explaining is losing:

Labour’s only strategy at the election was the much discussed Stealing Underpants Strategy put in place by their crippled campaign manager who is currently suffering bouts of dementia from the pressure of a young National backbench (one 31 years his Junior),  the ineptness of his own under-performing Front Bench colleagues and even Labour lap-blog, The Standard.

Now the poor old fool is threatening media if they use footage they are now almost certain to use just to spite him.  More sound strategy.

For this past week The Standard have all compiled namby pamby posts about needing to get rid of Trevor Mallard.  Almost all without having the guts to come out and name him as the source of Duncan Garner’s ABC (Anyone But Cunliffe) story.  It is pathetic blogging.  Put up his name little anonymous blogger boys or shut up.

Mallard has admitted that there is a need for Labour to be constantly refining.  Shame is that he does not realise that most of the loudest activists wish to refine him.

Out the door.