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Healthy ageing can be addressed at any age, forum experts say

22 Nov 2022

Don’t wait for a decline in wellbeing before thinking about healthy ageing, says the organiser of this Saturday's Healthy Ageing Forum, who encourages adults of all ages to attend.

University of the Sunshine Coast Associate Professor Chris Askew says most adults would hear useful information and learn a lot at the Healthy Ageing Forum on Saturday 26 November, held at UniSC in partnership with Sunshine Coast Council.

“When we are younger, we don’t tend to think about our health … until we notice a decline in function,” Dr Askew said.

“As we get older, we start to see a decline in our biological, physical, cognitive and even social function – it’s a bit harder to get up the stairs, your belt is a bit tighter or it’s harder to remember information.

“Healthy ageing is best defined as how we preserve these functions.

“People in their 70s, 80s and 90s who attended our forum last year, which was sold out, said they wish they had the information in their 30s or 40s, so they could establish new habits earlier.

“It’s better to make healthy changes early, but it’s never too late.”

The Forum will have the slogan ‘Moving and grooving into healthy ageing’, with short intervals for yoga, breathwork and meditation, and featuring presentations of the latest research and lifestyle recommendations from health experts including from UniSC and Sunshine Coast University Hospital.

UniSC experts Dr Sophie Andrews, Dr Mia Schaumberg, Dr Alexandra Metse, Dr Andy Ward and Tania Wiesmayr-Freeman will share information on topics including mental health, cognition, nutrition, physical activity and creative pursuits – all topics that make up the bigger picture of “healthy ageing”.

“Education and the sharing of information, like we are doing at the forum, helps people understand why lifestyle changes are often an important way to improve our health as we get older,” Dr Askew said.

“There are small incremental changes you can make and there are professionals around whose job it is to put together a program and help make lifestyle changes.”

UniSC Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Helen Bartlett said universities would play an increasing role in the health and wellbeing of Australians as the population aged.

“The Sunshine Coast has one of the oldest population demographics in the country, which makes it a great place to learn about the needs of older adults and how to prepare for healthy ageing,” Professor Bartlett said.

“Our academics play a vital role in developing the workforce to help and care for older Australians, and through our research we seek to understand and develop new ways of combatting the challenges of ageing.”

UniSC clinical neuropsychologist and lead of the Healthy Brain Ageing clinic at the Thompson Institute, Dr Sophie Andrews delivered the keynote address, and said that as people expanded their lifespans, it was important they also improved their health to ensure they could enjoy their additional years.

“Dementia is very challenging for both the person living with impairment, as well as their family members,” Dr Andrews said.

“It’s a concern for people of all ages and some of the key ways to reduce the risk of dementia is through physical activity, good diet, sleep, social connection and mindfulness. We are now discovering that maintaining good mental health is as important as physical health for reducing dementia risk.” 

The Healthy Ageing Forum 2022 will run from 8:30am to 3.30pm on Saturday 26 November and at Gympie on Thursday 8 December.

Bookings are essential as there will be no tickets available at the door. Tickets are $15 (plus booking fee) and include morning tea and lunch. Parking is free.

 

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