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Sunshine Coast first program aims to improve the mental health of older people

16-08-2016

The Sunshine Coast Private Hospital at Buderim is recognising National Seniors Week (13-21 August) by launching an Older Persons Program which is designed to meet the needs of those over 65 who are experiencing a mental health issue.

A first for the Sunshine Coast region, the program will be delivered from the hospital’s Cooinda Mental Health Service and will aim to help people in late adulthood better cope with stressful life events such as retirement, re-location, financial constraints, physical illnesses, and changing relationships. These challenges can become overwhelming and can lead to common mental health problems such as depression or anxiety.

Dr Jennifer Moss, a psychiatrist at The Sunshine Coast Private Hospital who specialises in older persons psychiatry, said the program will help participants gain a deeper understanding of the challenges associated with late adulthood, learn specific strategies to help manage these challenges, and help build a support network.

“Mental health problems as you age are quite common and often under-estimated so hopefully in talking about this program, it will raise awareness of this issue and result in more people seeking assistance,” Dr Moss said.

“Generally speaking, mental health problems are under-identified by healthcare professionals and older people themselves,” she said.

“I encourage any older person who is struggling to talk to their GP and don’t just put what they are feeling down to being old because depression and anxiety doesn’t just happen because you are ageing. The good news is that the outcomes are actually great for older people who seek help, if they have depression it is very treatable.”

Australia is in the midst of an unprecedented increase in the population aged 65 years and older. The fastest rate of growth is in people over 80. Data indicates the steepest period of growth in the number and proportion of people aged over 65 will take place during the next 10 years.

Dr Moss’ top tips to stay mentally healthy as you age are:

1. Stay socially connected

2. Stay physically active

3. Pay attention to lifestyle choices during middle age and establish good patterns of healthy living

4. Get regular check ups to maintain and monitor both physical and mental health

The Sunshine Coast Private Hospital’s General Manager, Wallis Westbrook, said the hospital’s Cooinda Mental Health Service provides the most comprehensive range of private mental health services on the Sunshine Coast.

“I’m so proud of our mental health service and all the local people it has been able to help over the years – from new mums to veterans, the young and the old,” he said.

The Sunshine Coast Private Hospital has been serving the community since 1980 and is part of UnitingCare Health - one of the largest not-for-profit private hospital groups in Queensland which operates more than 1000 licensed beds across four hospitals.

We are now accepting referrals for this program. For more information, visit www.sunshinecoasthospital.com.au/olderpersons