As we get older, we’re more likely to need the services of an allied health professional – but what does that actually mean?

If the term ‘allied health’ isn’t a familiar one to you, you’re not alone. You’ve probably heard of physiotherapy or occupational therapy before, and these fit under the remit of allied health. There are actually around 195,000 allied health professionals in Australia; they make up a quarter of the health workforce.

Allied health professionals are health professionals that are not part of the medical, dental and nursing professions.

What professions does allied health include?

While there’s a fairly extensive list of professions, these are the most common you’d come across that relate closely to aged care.

  • Dietetics – human nutrition and the regulation of diet based on a person’s medical condition and individual needs.
  • Exercise physiology – the study of the acute responses and chronic adaptations to a wide range of exercise conditions.
  • Occupational therapy – the use of assessment and intervention to develop, recover or maintain the meaningful activities or occupations of individuals, groups or communities.
  • Physiotherapy – the use of manual therapy, exercise therapy and education and self- efficacy to remediate impairments and promote mobility and function.

Why are we more likely to need the services of an allied health professional as we get older?

Whether you’re worried about a loved one after they’ve had a fall, or your concern is more for their mobility and ability to complete activities of daily living, such as washing and getting dressed, that’s when you’d enlist the help of an allied health professional.