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Mental health in older adults

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The elderly experience great physical disability and personal loss which can contribute to more depression in this age group. At least 10% of the elderly are said to be suffering from depression at any time and in residential care it can be up to 35% (beyondblue.org.au). It is important for physiotherapist to be aware of the stigma that exist in the minds of some elderly about depression and the fact that there may be hesitancy in sharing information which can be detrimental to achieving full physical potential and hamper management.

This presentation touches on aspect of depression to improve awareness when dealing with the elderly.


Ruth Lira works in Private Practice and has a special interest in how mental health issues can affect members in the community. Her experience includes working with balance/ vestibular disorders, War Veterans and motor vehicle/ work injuries, as well as artists and musicians. Clients can present with various mental health issues, including depression, anxiety and post traumatic experiences. She is dedicated to understanding the psycho-social aspect of injuries and motivate these clients towards a better physical and mental health state, towards a meaningful life.

Associate Professor Jo Connaughton is currently the Chair of the Australian Physiotherapy Mental Health Special Interest Group, Secretary on the Executive Committee of the International Organisation of Physiotherapists in Mental Health (IOPTMH) and the Australian representative of the IOPTMH. In July 2018 Jo Connaughton stepped down from Dean, School of Physiotherapy at University of Notre Dame Australia following a physiotherapy career spanning over 40 years including. In her 30 years of clinical work Jo practiced in almost all aspects of physiotherapy in metropolitan and regional WA, working with people from across the lifespan in both public and private settings including acute mental health. As Discipline Leader in an acute mental health facility Jo worked predominately with people aged between 18 and 65, however, also worked with older adults and supervised physiotherapists working in the psychogeriatric units. Jo joined the University in 2007 and in semi-retirement now teaches undergraduate students pathophysiology, presentation and treatment of mental health conditions. She is also a qualified Mental Health First Aid instructor and advocates for this to be included in undergraduate degrees. Jo's research in the mental health field includes exploring attitudes of physiotherapists and physiotherapy students towards mental health and psychiatry and more recently how these are influenced by inclusion of Mental Health First Aid training in undergraduate programs. Jo has also researched headaches experienced by people with schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder and has presented her research findings at National and International Conferences.


Mental Health and Gerontology National Groups

Date of Live Event



CPD Hours

2 Hours


Please note: The content of this Lecture on Demand (LOD) was captured via a recording of a live lecture at the APA premises. Due to the nature of the event and the recording method, this LOD may not have captured some of the questions/comments from live audience. Your purchase of this module indicates your acceptance of this.