Dr Liz Cyarto believes you need to ‘use it or lose it’. This means using the wisest combination of physical, mental and social strategies for healthy aging. She has committed her life and scholarship to ensuring that people know how to maintain their wellbeing so they can flourish. Liz earned her PhD from the School of Human Movement Studies at The University of Queensland. She was awarded three prestigious scholarships and her thesis was selected for the Dean’s Commendation List for Outstanding PhD. Before moving to Australia, she managed the national delivery of exercise leadership courses at the Canadian Centre for Activity and Aging. Liz’s 20 years of activity and aging expertise includes: training non-traditional exercise program leaders, how to stay healthy and independent, and physical activity measurement. Liz embedded her Have A Try exercise program in culturally diverse community groups by training peer leaders to ensure program sustainability. Her leadership on the online Healthy Ageing Quiz means seniors around the world can assess their current habits to make better lifestyle choices. Liz’s actionable insights have been shared with older people and aged care professionals in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Asia, and North America. She is currently a Senior Research Fellow at the Bolton Clarke Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia. Bolton Clarke provides services across the aged care continuum, based on individual needs, with the aim of improving clients’ and residents’ health, wellbeing and independence.
Promoting Wellbeing and Resilience in Aging Veterans and Military Families
Over half (54%) of individuals in the Australian Defence Force (ADF), experience a mental health diagnosis during their lifetime. In addition to being slightly higher than the rate reported for the general community (49%), their mental health profile differs. ADF members are more likely to experience depression, alcoholism and post-traumatic stress disorder. There is evidence that ADF family members also experience distress in response to these mental health issues, and that optimizing family functioning is an integral part of maintaining or improving a veteran’s mental health.
There are Toolkits aimed at supporting veterans, however there is nothing specifically for family members. During this presentation, we will present our work on the development and evaluation of a “Mental Health Resource” (the exact name is to be determined in consultation with project participants) for aging veterans and their families. This resource will focus on pre-diagnostic support to facilitate accurate identification, management and understanding of mental health issues and their impact on the family unit.
We are engaging with a well-known, international training organization, the Aged Care Channel, to develop an engaging video book, comprising seven chapters, that is designed to capture the stories and experiences of our veterans and their families regarding mental health. These include a general overview of mental health, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), steps to getting help, the family perspective, and the veteran perspective. The final chapter will focus on dementia and PTSD to increase health professionals’ and care workers’ awareness and knowledge about the relationship between these conditions, and how to engage with patients, clients and residents.
This project will fill a gap in the support services available to aging veterans and their families. This is a high priority considering the impact of mental health issues on family functioning and the impact of family functioning on treatment success. The outcome will be the co-creation of an evidence-based family resource, that could be made available nationally and internationally, which fosters wellbeing and builds resilience within family units.