Going into aged care can be fraught with grief and other crippling emotions as people leave the homes and people they love, lose their independence and grapple with fading health.
Indeed, a review conducted on behalf of Beyondblue two years ago found that older people living in residential aged care facilities are five times more prone to mental health issues than their independently living counterparts.
In one bid to address the mental health issues that can surface at this time, Anglicare has launched a new Emotional Wellbeing for Older Persons Service for aged care facilities in northern Sydney.
Mental health support
The program seeks to provide a balm for depression and anxiety, helping these people, who tend to go under the radar of mental health services, cope with the life challenges they face.
“Over half of permanent aged care residents experience some degree of depression,” says Anne Gaffney, manager of the new program, “yet there is a gap in mental health service provision within registered aged care facilities.”
The initiative is part of a $82.5 million investment by the Australian Government, aimed to help address the gap.
With a focus on psychological therapy, residents are assigned a case manager to help them talk about their care and recent losses of loved ones. They also learn relaxation techniques and memory retention strategies.
Group therapy and skills-building workshops help staff identify and support those who are struggling with mental health challenges.
“This program is an important step in recognising and treating the complex health needs of older people,” says Anglicare’s head of mental health, David Ip.
“We hope that through this program we can develop a model that can be rolled out across the whole aged care network.”
Lest we forget
When talking about psychological wellbeing, let’s not forget about the importance of lifestyle factors that improve physical health – such as sleep, social interaction and physical activity – and also contribute to mental health.
These simple yet vital practices can not only help ward off depression and anxiety but dementia as well.
It’s perhaps less well-recognised that nutrition and diet, crucial for physical health, is also important for psychological wellbeing, with recent calls for mental health professionals to start prescribing food.
Even better, why not combine this with communal cooking, engaging residents with familiar foods and social interaction.
And of course the animal lovers amongst us will appreciate the importance of pet therapy – these furry, four-legged godsends are guaranteed to make people smile.
Cost of Malnutrition
Our Cost of Malnutrition report outlines the problem of malnutrition and its various costs – both financial and physical – and offers a guide to its identification and management.
Download your free report HERE.