A staggering half of aged-care residents in Australia have depression. Without adequate treatment, symptoms can be enduring and significantly worsen older adults’ quality of life during their final years.

At the same time, data shows only 3% of Australian aged care residents access Medicare-subsidised mental health services, such as seeing a psychologist or psychiatrist, each year. The default seems to be to prescribe medication. A recent study found six in ten Australian aged care residents take antidepressants.

According to experts Tanya Davison and Sunil Bhar, while antidepressants may help many people, we lack robust evidence on whether they work for aged care residents with depression. They wanted to find out whether psychological therapy – such as cognitive behaviour therapy – can help manage depression in this group.

They reviewed the results of several different studies and found psychological therapy could be a promising approach for reducing symptoms of depression among aged care residents. Their findings also suggest that identifying ways to increase meaningful engagement with residents day-to-day could improve the mental health and wellbeing of older people in aged care.

“Depression should not be considered a ‘normal’ experience at this (or any other) stage of life, and those experiencing symptoms should have equal access to a range of effective treatments,” they write.

Phoebe Roth

Deputy Health Editor

Half of Australians in aged care have depression. Psychological therapy could help

Tanya Davison, Swinburne University of Technology; Sunil Bhar, Swinburne University of Technology

A new review looks at whether psychological therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy, are an effective way to treat older people in aged care with symptoms of depression.

Finally, good news for power bills: energy regulator promises small savings for most customers on the ‘default market offer’

Tony Wood, Grattan Institute

In states with competition between retailers, the energy regulator is promising savings for most customers on the default plan. But it’s small change compared to price hikes. Here’s what to expect.

By the time they are 20, more than four in five men and two in three women have been exposed to pornography: new research

Michael Flood, Queensland University of Technology; Kelsey Adams, Queensland University of Technology; Maree Crabbe, Queensland University of Technology

Whether deliberately seeking it out or finding it accidentally, most young Australians have seen pornography by the time they are 20, with potentially damaging consequences.

Future of Anthony Albanese’s religious discrimination legislation is in Peter Dutton’s hands

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

The prime minister has flagged he has draft legislation on religious freedom waiting in the wings, but unless Peter Dutton agrees to it, it may never see the light of day.

What’ll happen when Facebook stops paying for news? Here’s what happened when radio stopped paying for music

Peter Martin, Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University

Put to the test in 1970, Australia’s radio industry abandoned the record labels that wanted them to pay more. The labels backed down.

Gaza conflict: Washington’s patience is wearing thin over the lack of leadership from both Israel and Palestine

John Strawson, University of East London

But there is little sign that either side is listening.

Vladimir Putin’s gold strategy explains why sanctions against Russia have failed

Robert Huish, Dalhousie University

Russia has tied its currency to gold to evade sanctions. Shifting the ruble away from a pegged value and into the gold standard itself is aimed at making it a credible gold substitute at a fixed rate.

Biden and Trump, though old, are both likely to survive to the end of the next president’s term, demographers explain

Dudley L. Poston Jr., Texas A&M University; Rogelio Sáenz, The University of Texas at San Antonio

Detailed data on the ages at which people die can give good indications of a person’s remaining life span.

Devil in the details: breaking down the branding of the AFL’s newest team

Andrew Hughes, Australian National University

The AFL’s newest team, the Tasmania Devils, launched on Monday night, drawing on its rich football history in a blaze of myrtle green, primrose yellow and rose red.

Why scrapping the term ‘long COVID’ would be harmful for people with the condition

Deborah Lupton, UNSW Sydney

People with long COVID have already fought hard to become visible.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind at 20: an unflinching meditation on love and memory

Jane Steventon, University of Portsmouth

This quirky, nebulous, joyous then rueful story is not for those who like their love stories simple.

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