Ageing: all in the mind

In her article, Ageing: all in the mind, written for YOURLifeChoices online magazine, Dr Harriet Radermacher outlined some techniques for coping with the ageing process. Several subscribers sent in follow-up questions, which Dr Radermacher has been kind enough to answer.

Q: Tony

In your article you said we should watch out for ‘depressive symptoms’. You gave three examples – forgetfulness, restless sleep and loss of interest. I forget where I put my keys and sometimes I don’t sleep well, but I don’t think I am depressed. What else should I be on the lookout for in myself and my friends?

A. You’ve highlighted a good point. Many people experience signs and symptoms of depression and it does not necessarily mean you have depression. In fact, it would be unusual not to experience at least some of these signs and symptoms from time to time. The point at which it becomes concerning is if they occur more and more often and in combination. Some of the other common signs and symptoms include:

  • feeling sad most of the day
  • weight loss or gain (when not dieting)
  • slowed or fastened movements
  • tiredness or loss of energy
  • feeling worthless
  • difficulty concentrating
  • increased irritability and frustration
  • increased alcohol and drug use
  • thoughts of self-harm – or maybe just feeling over a period of time like your ‘cupboard’ of energy is emptying out faster than you can keep it stocked up

Organisations such as beyondblue can be a helpful resource for information about depression, what to be on the lookout for and where to get help – and in collaboration with the Council on the Ageing (COTA), it has developed a free national peer education program called beyond maturity blues.

For more information on beyond maturity blues, click on the COTA organisation in your state below:


Click NEXT to find out how to find a trustworthy financial advisor

Q: Pauline

I am not sure what state my finances are in and this worries me, but I feel unsure about going to a financial advisor. How do I know I can trust their advice?

A. You can start by doing some research. Why not ask around for a recommendation and find out about other people’s experiences of financial advisors? Alternatively, look on the internet for a financial planning organisation with a good reputation. Other options are to ask your superannuation provider, bank or Centrelink’s Financial Information Service (FIS) for someone they have dealt with. One of the first things to check is that your financial advisor holds an Australian Financial Services (AFS) licence, which ensures they have the correct qualifications and skills, as well as being bound by high ethical and professional standards.  Go and meet them first and ask lots of questions; get a feel for how they work, how many clients they have, what their experience is and what they might be able to offer you. This process may alleviate some of your concerns and assist you to make a more informed decision about whether you choose to place your trust in them. And if you do get some advice, remember that it’s up to you to decide if you want to act on it.

For more information on financial counsellors, click here.

Click NEXT to find out how to get physically active

Q: Jane

I want to be more physically active to improve my health, but it is my health which has prevented me from exercising in the first place. I have osteopenia (a mild form of osteoporosis) and I am worried about falling. Who can I talk to about getting active without hurting myself?

A. A first step is to see your GP or a physiotherapist. They will assess your current status and advise a plan of action based on your personal circumstances and more importantly, minimise any potential risk of injury. The key is to start small and build up slowly. This is both important physically (your body will be better able to cope and manage with increasing levels of physical activity) and psychologically (you will become more aware of what you are able to do and become increasingly confident in your abilities). If you don’t already, you will most likely be advised to start with walking. Walking is one of the most accessible and beneficial forms of physical activity – and the best thing is it is free! You may move on to try some other weight-bearing activities and exercises (with light weights and bands), which increase bone density and can prevent progression to osteoporosis.

For more advice on getting active, read physiotherapist Jane Banting’s article, Use it or lose it.

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