Deborah Alsina MBE, Chief Executive of Independent Age, said:
“We are pleased to have contributed to this report from National Voices highlighting the importance of offering mental health support to people living with long-term physical conditions.
“We hear from people regularly who tell us about the impact their physical health condition is having on their mental health. Greater recognition of this is vital.
“Living with mental health problems, and feeling low and anxious is not an inevitable part of the ageing process. However, as people grow older they are at risk of multiple factors that can affect their mental health. Many take a combination of medications, as well as almost four million people over the age of 65 living alone in England with some of these feeling lonely and isolated. Bereavement is also more likely to be experienced by those who are older, and many people in later life provide care for relatives and friends which can affect their wellbeing.
“Previous research by Independent Age has shown that not enough people aged over 65 are receiving mental health support through the NHS, specifically talking therapy for anxiety and depression. It is essential that all older people, including those with long-term conditions, are able to access the support they need for their mental health.
“We agree with this report’s recommendations that there are several avenues to improve the mental health support offered to people with physical health conditions. This includes staff training so all health care workers have a good knowledge of mental health problems, and ensuring that people with protected characteristics, including age, have equal access to support, including options that are closer to home. Small gestures of care can also make a big difference for example keeping people well-informed about their condition and ensuring they can get help between appointments.
Notes to editor
- Nearly 60% of people in England aged 60+ live with a long-term condition and the likelihood of having multiple long-term conditions also increases with age, with 75% of 75 year olds in the UK having more than one long term condition, rising to 82% of 85 year olds (1).
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