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2018 APS Congress

The 2018 APS Congress will be held in Sydney from Thursday 27 to Sunday 30 September 2018

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Ageing

We are all ageing. Yet some older people continue to be marginalised and regarded as a burden despite strong evidence to the contrary.

Psychologists have an important role in supporting people to age well, which may include addressing the discrimination that older people face.

Psychologists who specialise in ageing also focus on issues such as the mental health of older people, the quality of aged-care services, and life transitions such as retirement and widowhood.

Insights about how age-related illnesses affect people and communities are in increasing demand as the Australian population ages. 

Key points

  • Australia has an ageing population. By 2054, 21% of the population (8.4 million) will be aged 65 and over, compared to 15% (3.5 million) in 20141.
  • There is no reason ageing cannot be a positive process. This is despite widespread negative stereotypes about older people.
  • One common misconception is that the ageing population is a 'burden', with older people often portrayed as dependent recipients of government benefits, heavy users of health care services, and unemployed.
  • Older people make many important contributions to society. Many are informal carers and volunteers, and are the bedrock to many families.
  • The majority of older Australians live, and want to live, in their own homes.
  • Depression and ill health are not inevitable in older age. They can affect someone at any age and aren't necessarily more prevalent in older people.
  • Psychologists can help to improve the health and wellbeing of older people, especially when working in a team with carers and other health practitioners.
  • Depression and anxiety are much more common in older people living in residential aged care facilities than in the community, with more than half experiencing symptoms2,3. Yet older people living in these facilities are not currently entitled to psychological services under Medicare via the Better Access initiative.

How the APS is involved

The APS has contributed a number of submissions to government inquiries on ageing-related issues.

The APS believes that there needs to be:

  • Access to psychologists via Medicare for people in residential aged care facilities
  • Better recognition of, and adequate funding for, evidence-based behavioural interventions
  • A focus on healthy ageing rather than the view that ageing is a medical phenomenon
  • An active partnership between older Australians and policy makers through the development of an overall engagement framework for the reform of aged care policies and services.

References

  1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2015). Growing older. In Australia’s welfare 2015. Australia’s welfare series no. 12. Cat. no. AUS 189.Canberra: AIHW (Chapter 6, pp. 232-287).
  2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2013). Depression in residential aged care 2008-2012. Aged care statistics series No. 39. Cat. no. GSE 73. Canberra: AIHW.
  3. Creighton, A. S., Davison, T. E., & Kissane, D. W. (2016). The prevalence of anxiety among older adults in nursing homes and other residential aged care facilities: A systematic review. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 31(6), 555-566.