News

To celebrate Seniors Week, new booklets from Beyond Blue to improve the wellbeing of older people

16 March 2015

This week is Seniors Week (March 14-22) in NSW and ACT, a time to celebrate the achievements and contributions of older people in our community.

The week is also an important reminder that every Australian, regardless of their age, deserves to have good mental health, which keeps people satisfied, optimistic and gives them a sense of purpose and belonging.

To help seniors achieve their best mental health, Beyond Blue has recently released two new booklets designed specifically for older people and those caring for older people.

The first booklet, Connections Matter, provides advice for older Australians on how to connect with their community, to ward off loneliness and increase their protection against developing depression and anxiety.

With research showing up to six in 10 older people feel lonely, Connections Matter offers tips on how older people can improve their social connections, through joining local social groups and by using the internet and online programs such as Skype.

The second booklet, What works to promote emotional wellbeing in older people, identifies and rates the best activities for improving and protecting the mental health of older people. It has been designed specifically for aged care workers, but is also helpful for everyone who has an older person in their lives.

Based on La Trobe University research, the booklet rates activities on a scale of zero to three for how effective they are at improving older people’s mental health.

The top five most effective activities for improving the emotional wellbeing of older people in community care are exercise, tai chi and qigong, self-help through books (bibliotherapy), computer-based therapies or computer games, and reminiscing about the older person’s life and the challenges they have overcome.

Beyond Blue CEO Georgie Harman said Seniors Week in NSW and ACT is a great opportunity for older people, and their friends and families, to learn how to stay mentally healthy.

“Around one in ten older adults experiences depression and a similar number experiences anxiety. Mental health conditions are even more common among older people in the community who are frail and need support to remain at home, and among those in residential care. Research shows nearly 35 per cent of people living in residential care facilities have depression,” she said.

“By proactively looking after their mental health as they grow older, seniors can reduce their risk of developing depression or anxiety and improve their quality of life. People in caring roles can also play a vital part in improving the mental health of the older people with whom they work.

“By proactively looking after their mental health as they grow older, seniors can reduce their risk of developing depression or anxiety and improve their quality of life. People in caring roles can also play a vital part in improving the mental health of the older people with whom they work.

“The Beyond Blue website has information on mental health, including inspiring personal stories focusing on older people at www.beyondblue.org.au/resources/for-me/older-people.

“We hope these new booklets, along with Beyond Blue’s other resources for older people, will inspire seniors to look after their mental health, which will help them live life to the full.”

Connections Matter is available online or in printed form hereWhat works to promote emotional wellbeing in older people is available online here.

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