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Stroke is Australia’s second biggest killer after heart disease and our leading cause of disability*, with 60,000 Australian suffering from it each year.** Luckily, according to the National Stroke Foundation, there are some things we can do lower the risk of stroke, or if it occurs to spot the early signs so we can get help fast.

spotting the symptoms

According to the National Stroke Foundation’s CEO, Dr Erin Lalor, recognising the early signs of a stroke and seeking medical assistance as soon as possible helps save lives.

“When a stroke is suspected, every second counts – it is vital to call an ambulance immediately to give the patient the best possible chance of recovery,” she says. “There are life-saving treatments available but they are only effective if people act fast.”

The National Stroke Foundation’s FAST program helps you spot the initial signs of a stroke:

  • Facial weakness. Check the person’s face: has their mouth drooped?
  • Arm weakness. Can they lift both arms?
  • Speech difficulty. Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?
  • Time is critical. If you see any of these signs call 000 immediately.

preventing a stroke

According to the National Stroke Foundation, there are some steps you can take to lower the risk of stroke. These include:

  • Managing risk factors such as an irregular heart beat, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes. See to your doctor for a diagnosis.
  • Eating a balanced diet especially one that is low in saturated fat and salt. Eating fresh fruit and vegetables is recommended and avoiding processed or canned foods as they can be high in sodium/salt.
  • Keeping active. People who participate in moderate activity are less likely to have a stroke. Try and build up to at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week.
  • Quitting smoking. Smoking can increases your risk of stroke by increasing blood pressure and reducing oxygen in the blood. Seek advice on how you can quit smoking as soon as possible by calling the QUIT line on 13 18 48 •
  • Limiting alcohol. Your risk of stroke can be reduced with moderate alcohol intake (1-2 glasses a day). However, excessive amounts of alcohol can raise blood pressure and increase your risk of stroke

insurance cover for strokes and other traumas

If the worst happens and you suffer a stroke, it will take a while to recover, during which time you will need to meet your usual financial obligations as well as cover the cost of recovery.

Insurance cover can help your family cope financially if you suffer from a stroke or other serious trauma. Trauma insurance payments can cover specialist medical attention, home modifications and repayment of debts (such as a mortgage).

An ipac adviser can help you determine the level of cover you need to protect your family financially. Click here to contact us for a confidential discussion about your personal circumstances.

*Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2006. Australia’s Health 2006.  ** AG Thrift (personal communication). Estimates obtained using NEMESIS data (assuming no change in incidence), and Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates of a changing population.

Don youngcare thongs this weekend to fight for young care for young people

[tweetmeme only_single=false]Right now there are 6,500 young people with high care needs living in aged care facilities* simply because there are very limited alternatives. A further 700,000 young people are cared for at home by family and friends.**

John Tassone is one such person. At the age of 15 he had a devastating rugby league accident, resulting in quadriplegia. He is now reliant on family and friends for all his care needs, meaning he isn’t always able to live the independent, young life others his age take for granted. You can read his story here on MamaMia’s blog.

But donning thongs this long weekend could make a difference.

Today (and extending over the weekend) is youngcare Thong Day – an opportunity to help people like John by donating to and spreading awareness for youngcare, an organisation fighting for the rights of young people like John to live young lives.

Youngcare CEO Marina Vit said youngcare is delighted by the incredible support across the country, with hundreds of individuals and businesses supporting the charity by purchasing youngcare thongs or hosting their own ‘Thong-a-Thons’ at work and at home.

“Thongs represent youth, freedom, fun and an Australian way of life, all things that young people deserve to experience, regardless of their care needs. Each person supporting Thong Day this weekend is making an invaluable contribution to the lives of young Australians with full time care needs.”

To find out where to buy youngcare thongs in your area or donate directly to youngcare visit

*The Senate Community Affairs Committee 2005 **Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2007

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most controversial and misunderstood topics in children’s health, with many debating the best form of treatment and some even dismissing its existence. But for many people – both children and adults, ADHD is a reality.

So what does it feel to have ADHD? These recordings from the New York Times explore what it’s like for children, adults and their families to live with ADHD.

For more information on ADHD, contact the following organisations: 

Alzheimer's Australia NSW's ambassadors - PJ Lane, Ita Buttrose and Doris Younane

[tweetmeme only_single=false this week’s Dementia Awareness Week, experts are urging those worried about their memory to seek help sooner rather than later. 

“It is important that when someone has a genuine concern about their memory, or that of a loved one, they act sooner rather than later as this will help in receiving a timely diagnosis,” said Dr Rochford, National Ambassador for Dementia Awareness Week. 

“Early diagnosis is important in helping to get the right support, information and treatment,” he said. “Some medications are also at their most beneficial in the early stages of dementia.” 

And according to Alzheimer’s Australia, patients also report many benefits in receiving a diagnosis. 

“It was a relief to get the diagnosis,” said Fred, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. “The worst was not knowing.” 

“For me, the medication has helped a lot,” said John also diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. “It’s lifted the fog.” 

According to Brendan Burwood, managing director of ipac’s aged care division, ipac financial care, an early diagnosis can also help people plan their lives including their finances, legal matters and future care needs. 

“When it comes to aged care arrangements, we often see a trigger event occur, meaning one of the children has to take control of situation without input from mum or dad,” said Brendan. 

“An elderly mum might be in hospital and in need of support. Then, the daughter or son realise Mum can’t live at home anymore, that she’ll need a bed in an aged-care facility.” 

“Suddenly, they are confronted with some very hard calls about where to put mum, how to fund aged care arrangements and what to do with the family home. This can be a very confronting and emotional time for the children,” explained Brendan. 

“But with an early diagnosis the family has the opportunity to plan ahead, and if they catch it early enough, the person with dementia can be involved too – choosing a power of attorney, planning their estate and making choices about their future care needs.” 

“This gives them the dignity of planning their own affairs rather than having decisions made for them in a crisis situation.” 

Maria, who was diagnosed with vascular dementia agrees that an early diagnosis helped her plan ahead. 

“We are glad we had that early diagnosis,” she said. “We have been given the chance to change our lifestyle activities to match my capabilities and to make definite plans for the future” 

For more information on early warning signs and what to do if you’re worried about your memory, visit the Alzheimer’s Australia website here or call the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500. 

Or if you’d like help planning ahead for both the expected and unexpected, visit ipac here or call 1800 626 881.

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According to Autism Spectrum Australia, autism and related disorders affect one in 160 children born in Australia today. But despite its high incidence, it remains largely misunderstood by the community.

“One way the community can support people and families living with autism is to reserve judgement and accept that people can be, and are, different from each other,” Communications spokesperson for Autism Spectrum Australia, Lauren Tanfield.

“For example, we may witness a child getting upset in a supermarket and be quick to label the child as being ‘naughty’. But for all we know that child may have autism and be reacting to some stimuli in the environment that the rest of us don’t even notice,” explains Lauren.

“Autism is a lifelong developmental disability which remains largely misunderstood by the community despite its prevalence and far-reaching consequences. Being more understanding is something we can all do to really help.”

The following podcasts published in the New York Times give insight into the minds of people living with autism. Click here to listen.

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