PPP059: Positive Conversations about Aged Care with Dr Julie Bajic Smith

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"Australian men over 85 have the highest rate of suicide in the country"

Wellbeing in older adults. It's a conversation we don't often have, but we need to. My guest today is Dr Julie Bajic-Smith, an aged care psychology consultant and mentor, and she is passionate about the need to shape a better future for everyone in aged care.

For five years Julie travelled to aged care homes and facilities to provide treatment and face-to-face intervention for the elderly. Her career took a turn when she kept hearing the same thing from her patients - I’m not getting the right emotional support from my caregivers. It's not that caregivers didn't care. They just didn't have the skills, knowledge and confidence to provide emotional as well as physical support and care to their clients.

Julie set about changing this. Today she provides education to aged care workplaces, support to families and mentoring to clinicians who share her vision of greater wellbeing, reduced isolation and better mental health for older people.

In this episode Julie and I discuss:

  • The wellbeing issues faced by older adults, including isolation, financial constraints, changes in circumstance and health and how these impact on mental health

  • How Julie came to specialise in the field

  • Her goal to boost the wellbeing - and halve the depression rate - of Australian adults in aged care

  • Why there is a dearth of mental health professionals working in aged care - and what Julie is doing to change this

  • Julie's tips for better conversations about ageing and mental health

September 12 is RUOK Day in Australia - a national day of action encouraging us all to start life-changing conversations to support those who might be struggling with life's challenges and to create a more connected world. Julie and I hope that this episode prompts more conversations about emotional wellbeing in our older adults.

If you work in aged care or have older adults in your life, listen in. You will be inspired by Julie's words and passion, I promise.

Thanks for listening! If you've enjoyed this episode we'd love it if you would:

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