Action is required now for future older Australians to receive adequate mental health care
Over the next 20 years, the number of Australians aged 65 years and over is projected to nearly double from around 3.2 million to about 6.2 million people.1 Individuals with lifelong mental illness will be joined by those with new mental disorders, such as mood disorders, late-life psychoses and anxiety disorders that are often associated with physical illness or cognitive decline, including dementia.2,3 Australia is failing to plan for these changes and minimise the associated financial and personal costs this will bring. Males aged over 85 years already have the highest suicide rate in Australia.4 The 2009 Fourth national mental health plan discussed the needs of older people, but without priority actions focused on older people.5 Similarly, the Independent Mental Health Reform Group’s (IMHRG) $2.5 billion “blueprint” for the transformation of mental health services in Australia largely ignored older people.6
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