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mental health care to older people in need

Health and Aging

An older person’s mental health is fundamental to that person’s quality of life, and it is influenced by their access to health services, education, employment, housing, social services and justice, and by freedom from abuse and discrimination.

Older people suffer from common mental health problems and mental illness at rates which are similar to their younger, adult counterparts. The common mental health problems and mental illnesses occurring in older people include adjustment disorders, depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, substance use disorders, personality disorders and psychotic disorders. Bereavement and cognitive impairment occur at higher rates in older people, and are increasingly significant population health issues, mirroring the ageing of the population.

Older people who suffer from acute physical illnesses such as heart attack and stroke, and those who suffer from chronic physical illness such as diabetes, hypertension, renal failure, obesity, cardiac failure, arthritis and dementia are more likely than their well counterparts to suffer from mental health problems and mental illness. Conversely, older people who suffer from mental health problems and mental illness have much higher rates of physical morbidity, disability, disadvantage and mortality.

Most importantly, older people with good mental health are more likely to enjoy a sense of cognitive, psychological, emotional and social wellbeing, and achieve their potential in terms of healthy and successful ageing.


A/Prof Burke presenting at the St Vincent's Hospital Healthy Brain Aging seminar