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Ten tips for good mental health in later life

12 November 2013

Ten tips for good mental health in later life –
Mental health of older people to be discussed in Auckland

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists’ Faculty of Psychiatry of Old Age will hold their annual conference this week at Auckland City Hospital.

International experts will discuss a range of mental health concerns and treatments for older people, with past-President of the influential American Psychiatric Association Professor Dilip Jeste addressing the group on ‘Successful ageing and positive psychiatry’.

‘Today there are 550 million people in the world older than 65 years; in 2040, there will be 1.4 billion. In no field will this seismic demographic shift be felt more strongly than in geriatric psychiatry. We anticipate a notable increase in incidence and prevalence of mental illnesses in older adults, especially among aging Baby Boomers. The prevalent approach to treating psychiatric disorders will not suffice’ said Professor Jeste.

‘We need a new ‘Positive Psychiatry’. This new model would focus, not simply on symptom relief, but on recovery and promotion of successful aging. It would view old age, not as a period of inevitable biopsychosocial decline, but as one with continued neuroplasticity leading to neuro-regeneration.

‘We should welcome the growing ranks of the aging population as a golden wave in which older people, including those with mental and physical illnesses, can be happy and productive, and make important contributions to their own welfare as well as that of younger generations.’

Conference Convenor and Chair of the RANZCP’s Faculty of Psychiatry of Old Age Dr Jane Casey is looking forward to hearing from Professor Jeste and more than 20 other speakers ‘This is an exciting time for psychiatry, and there is lots to talk about. It is appropriate that our theme is restoration and resilience in older people - it’s important that mental health in later life is discussed both in our sector and in the community.’

When: Thursday 14 November & Friday 15 November 2013
Where: Auckland City Hospital, 2 Park Road, Grafton

There are many strategies for successful ageing that are based on compelling evidence. Psychiatrist Dr Jane Casey at the RANZCP conference offers these tips for good mental health in later life:

1. Maintaining a positive attitude towards ageing is vital, accept the inevitable and harness your strengths.
2. Optimistic people live longer and humour is one of the most effective coping strategies.
3. Avoid prolonged exposure to stress and if unavoidable, reach out for help.
4. Maintain social networks; spend time with people and foster altruism and meaning in your life.
5. Try and learn novel things, even a new language or game. Remember the brain still has a remarkable degree of plasticity in older age.
6. Stretch every day, engage in regular aerobic exercise and do strength-building activities. Take up dancing!
7. Keep a healthy weight for height, enjoy the morning sun and keep up your fluids.
8. Follow the research on dietary supplements, the evidence is evolving all the time.
9. Practice good sleep hygiene, avoid tobacco products and minimise alcohol intake.
10. Follow recommendations for disease screening and keep a healthy skepticism about claims regarding anti-aging products.

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