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Faces of Peninsula Health: Q&A with Dr Anjali Khushu

Dr Anjali Khushu is the Head of Geriatric Medicine at Peninsula Health.

She joined Peninsula Health in 2008 after working as a Consultant Geriatrician at Monash Health.

She shares what she enjoys most about her role at Peninsula Health and has some important health tips. 

Q: Why did you decide to specialise in geriatric medicine?

A: I came across some very inspirational geriatricians while I was training who made medicine look like an art. It is a speciality which required the skill to use technical knowledge contextually and that appealed to me. Over the decades our focus in the health sector has shifted from mere prolongation of life to understanding what matters to people in life and death. Geriatricians have a huge role to play in promoting this idea and I find this approach fascinating and very rewarding.

Q: What do you enjoy most about your job?

A: The variety. There is a great mix of clinical work, teaching opportunities, patient advocacy, and collaboration with other colleagues to improve outcomes for our patients.

Q: You see a lot of patients who have been affected by stroke and dementia. Can you explain what vascular dementia is and what is the link between stroke and dementia?

A: Vascular dementia is a term that refers to cognitive impairment that has resulted from impaired blood flow to the brain. As you can imagine, impaired blood flow can result from a stroke but strokes don’t always cause vascular dementia. Whether a stroke causes problems with cognition depends on the severity and location of the stroke. Vascular dementia typically results in problems with planning, judgement, reasoning, memory and other thinking skills to a degree significant enough to interfere with daily social or occupational functioning.

Q: What are some things older people can do to look after their health and reduce their risk of dementia and stroke?

A: Factors which increase the risk of stroke and dementia are: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, smoking, physical inactivity, poor diet and heart rhythm abnormalities. Regular check-ups with your GP and appropriate management of any risk factor that one might have is important. Healthy eating and regular exercise is also very important.

Q: When you’re not busy running the Geriatric Medicine department at Peninsula Health, what do you like to do outside of work?

A: I like to go for long walks to declutter my brain! I am interested in and read a lot of Buddhist philosophy. Love to travel as well.

September is Dementia Awareness Month

Dementia is the term used to describe the symptoms of a large group of illnesses which cause a progressive decline in a person’s functioning.

It is a broad term used to describe a loss of memory, intellect, rationality, social skills and physical functioning.

Dementia is the second leading cause of death of Australians contributing to 5.4% of all deaths in males and 10.6% of all deaths in females each year.

In 2018, there is an estimated 425,416 Australians living with dementia 191,367 (45%) males 234,049 (55%) females