Why is learning about depression and anxiety important, especially for older people?
Depression and anxiety in older people is common and may occur for different reasons. Importantly, while the onset of a physical illness or personal loss and sadness can be common and may lead to depression, depression and anxiety are not a normal part of ageing.
By encouraging early recognition of the signs of depression and anxiety, we can assist people to recover faster. Unfortunately many people know little or nothing about these conditions and do not seek treatment.
Council on the Ageing (COTA), together with beyondblue (the national depression initiative), host information sessions called ‘beyond maturityblues’ to dispel the myth that depression and anxieety are part of getting older.
’beyond maturityblues’ sessions are free of charge and presented by volunteer peer educators trained and supported by COTA and beyondblue. Peer educators are not trained medically but are trained to give information and generate discussion. People attending these sessions have remarked that they find them very accessible as they are in conversational language, and participants feel they are being spoken with rather than to. This approach is particularly important when discussing issues such as depression, as many older people are apprehensive in seeking medical assistance with the illness.
‘beyond maturityblues’ sessions help increase knowledge about depression and encourage people to seek advice and support. They also aim to decrease the stigma around depression and anxiety and explain to people that it is not a normal part of ageing.
What happens at the sessions?
- Sessions run for up to one hour.
- A trained Peer Educator leads participants through an interactive session about depression and anxiety encouraging feedback and questions.
- Participants receive handouts to take home to read at their leisure and to tell others about information and resources covered in the session.
- Our Peer Educators know how to make the sessions interesting and know how to empower older people to feel comfortable and confident in finding out more about depression.
- You can be assured of a very worthwhile learning experience!
‘beyond maturityblues’ sessions are available to community groups in Victoria. If you would like to book a session for your group, contact COTA on (03) 9655 2107.
How do I request a session?
Call COTA Victoria
Telephone: 03 9655 2107
Fax: 03 9654 4456
What can you do if you think someone may have depression or anxiety?
- Suggest the person sees a doctor or health professional.
- Offer practical support by assisting the person to make an appointment and either provide or arrange transport.
- Offer assistance at the person’s home.
- If someone has been prescribed antidepressant medication, encourage the person to continue taking it as directed and assist them to discuss the treatment with their doctor.
- If the person complains of side-effects from the medication, encourage them to discuss these with their doctor or pharmacist.