Geriatric Mental Health: An Overview
AbstractThe well-being of older adults is a major social and health concern in the United States. Of particular import is the mental health of the expanding older adult population. Older adults often receive inadequate or inappropriate mental health services. Provision of appropriate, efficacious care is a challenge because of the complexity of determining the differential diagnosis of health problems in elders. Mental health professionals require knowledge not only of the unique presentation of psychiatric disorders in older adults but also of normal aging, diseases and disabilities of aging, and the cultural diversity found between and among subgroups. For the purposes of this article, emphasis will be placed on geriatric mental health, including issues and barriers that have affected the diagnosis and treatment of mental health problems and psychiatric disorders in older adults. Areas of concern identified in the recent Surgeon General’s reports on older adult suicide and mental health will be presented. A case example will be used to illustrate key issues in geriatric mental health care.