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Books, Bookshops and Ageing

02 September, 2011

avid reader bookshopriverbend bookshop

Avid Reader Bookshop, West End        Riverbend Bookshop, Bulimba

Kathleen Noonan had a wonderful article in the Brisbane Courier Mail 21-22 August about books, bookshops and aging – 3 very relevant topics for me at present. She was decrying the demise of the bookshop in an age where Kindles and ipads are replacing a good old-fashioned book.

Kathleen mentioned two wonderful examples of bookshops that
have employees who have specialist knowledge of what they are selling and who LOVE books. Also importantly, they know how to make a good coffee and muffin amongst other culinary delights. Riverbend Books at Bulimba and The Avid Reader at West End – two of my favourite bookshops especially as they stock my new book Pelvic Floor Recovery – are two great examples of local bookshops that are diversifying with weekly book talks, book signings with local and interstate authors, and have become, as Noonan states, ‘like conduits for communities’.

The main thing that caught my eye though, was the book that
Kathleen was reading called the Shock of Gray by Ted C Fishman. In this book he tells us that by 2030 a billion people will be 65 or older, with the number of centenarians alive in 2050 projected to be 3.2 million. And of course all I can think about is the continence state of all those aging people. Recently, the Continence Foundation of Australia, (www.continence.org.au)  the peak body for continence promotion in Australia, commissioned Deloitte Access Economics to examine the cost of incontinence and this report found that almost 4.8 million Australians are living with some form of incontinence, limiting their ability to work and resulting in $34.1 billion in lost earnings.

The economic impact of incontinence in Australia is huge and the report has found that more than 25 percent (6.5 million) of all Australians will be dealing with some form of incontinence by 2030. This rapid escalation reflects Australia’s ageing population. It also found the cost to the health system from incontinence would balloon from $271 million currently to $450 million by 2020 without clinical advances or policies designed to combat the projected increase. The overall cost of incontinence stretches beyond lost productivity and the costs to hospitals. When a cost for the hundreds of hours of informal and formal care, products and laundry costs are accounted for, the total financial cost of incontinence is estimated to be $42.9 billion, or $9,014 per person with incontinence per annum.  These costs exclude the quality of life losses experienced by those with incontinence.

So as someone who spends her day teaching men, women and
children about how to improve their continence state, to see those vast numbers of older people living on for much longer is somewhat daunting. I believe it is imperative that the message gets out about the simple things we can do to self-help with continence promotion. Understanding about good bladder and bowel habits including how to sit properly to ensure complete emptying and with no straining on the pelvic floor; how to correctly activate the pelvic floor muscles and to do regular pelvic floor muscle training exercises and most importantly to turn those muscles on at the appropriate time when coughing, sneezing, bending or lifting.

It’s what you do in your 30’s, 40’s or 50’s that can improve
your quality of life in your later years. But does that mean it’s too late for
those in their older years now? NO! I firmly believe seeing a pelvic floor
physiotherapist at anytime in your life will always give you some benefit – especially to correct some of the myths that have been handed down from mother to child, from generation to generation.

A future blog will be devoted to expelling some of those old wives’ tales and teach us the correct science about the bladder.

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