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Women’s Healthy Ageing Forum

Population Health team co-hosts forum for community members in Newtown.

Panel of speakers talking in front of a large group
SydneyConnect Image: Dr Shannon speaks to the audience

Dr Duncan Shannon, a Urogynaecologist Fellow at RPA, wants to ensure that patients get the right information about their health.

“We see a lot of patients in clinic suffer in silence for a long time,” he said.

“It’s about getting the word out there that these things happen, they are not normal and are treatable.”

Dr Shannon presented at the Women’s Healthy Ageing Forum, held in partnership by Sydney Local Health District’s Population Health team and the Older Women’s Network NSW.

He was one of five panellists from a broad range of services, representing the District’s Mental Health and Population Health services, the Boden Institute, and Dementia Australia.

Topics discussed included hormones and health, dementia awareness, ageing and addressing mental health and nutrition issues, and staying active.

The free information session also offered a safe and supportive space for older women, to talk about health concerns that may not usually be openly discussed, like bladder issues, mental health, dementia and menopause symptoms.

“There are lesser-known symptoms of menopause that are quite common and debilitating, but many people get put off thinking that their illness is a normal part of getting old or they are too embarrassed to see someone,” Dr Shannon said.

“These issues are easily treatable with a wide range of treatments, not just surgery and medications.”

In Sydney Local Health District, Population Health works collaboratively with other District-wide services, healthcare workers, community, external organisations, and partners to improve the health and wellbeing of the Sydney Local Health District community, providing programs and events that help prevent illness and address inequalities.

Information stalls for participants at the forum included RPA Gynaecology Services, the Stepping On program, District Nutrition, Mental health, Elder Abuse, and Aged Health and Chronic Care services.

Support was also present from key partner organisations: Stroke Foundation, Heart Foundation, Hearing Australia, Services NSW, and the Inner West Council.

Dr Shannon says it is important for medical professionals to be visible and contribute to these events to connect and meet with people who may be suffering in silence.

“On balance, there are risks, but for people whose quality of life is poor, the risks are far outweighed by the benefits of having a conversation and building rapport,” he said.

His message to older women who are looking for information is to speak with health professionals who have their best interest at heart.

“Don’t believe everything you see on social media, see your general practitioner as a first point of call and go from there. There are lots of simple straight forward things you can do.”