Mistake to Dismiss Elder Mental Illness
To Whom It May Concern: (hint…that would be ALL of us.) Please be advised, normal aging is not characterized by mental disorders.
Contrary to popular belief, mental disorders like anxiety, depression, cognitive impairment, mood disorders and behavioral problems, are not a normal part of aging. Many of our elderly parents suffer in silence because they are unable to relate their problems to someone who understands.
Access to psychiatric care has long been a problem for aging seniors. Most families do not understand how to identify problems. And many nursing homes don’t know how to care for seniors with mental disorders.
According to the American Medical Association, there are less than 2,600 board certified geriatric psychiatrists for 35 million seniors – or about one per 14,000 Americans 65 and older. Think about that ratio! Families and nursing home personnel often fail to recognize mental or emotional illness in an elderly person. In many cases, “normal” symptoms of aging can be confused in an elder with multiple medical issues. This can be a difficult combination to crack. Professional help is needed to extract “normal” from underlying medical issues and accompanying medications.
In addition to a shortage of appropriate health specialists, experts cite barriers to access. There is a built-in denial of problems among the elderly. And a lack of coordination and proper communication between mental health and aging networks.
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John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions.
Phone: (781) 378-2164
Email: [email protected]