Science and Profession (Magill’s Medical Guide, Sixth Edition)
Growing numbers of old and very old people and the increased complexity of diagnosis and treatment of this age group have driven the growth of geriatric psychiatry. Psychiatrists who specialize in working with the geriatric population note that the psychiatric problems experienced by older people often fit poorly in the diagnostic categories set down in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-IV-TR (4th ed., 2000). The interplay among declining physical health, decreasing mental functioning, social withdrawal and isolation, and vulnerability to stress makes proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment more difficult. In response to this complexity, practitioners of geriatric psychiatry tend to take a broader approach to diagnosis and to use an interdisciplinary model in developing a treatment plan. The profession of geriatric psychiatry has developed most in Great Britain and Canada but is attracting growing numbers of practitioners in the United States and other Western countries.
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Diagnostic and Treatment Techniques (Magill’s Medical Guide, Sixth Edition)
Geriatric psychiatrists tend to follow the lead of specialists in geriatric medicine, who have found that taking a syndromal approach to diagnosis appears to work better with older patients. Among the psychiatric syndromes used by geriatric psychiatrists are acute confusion, anxiety, depression, hypochondriasis, insomnia, memory loss, and suspiciousness. Special attention must be given by geriatric psychiatrists to the older person’s overall ability to function, general health status, social support system, family history, and preexisting conditions. Geriatric psychiatrists are forced to acknowledge the role played by changes in the brain as it ages and to separate changes that are relatively benign from those that pose real threats to the patient. Hospitalization and significant medical intervention tend to occur more often in the later stages of a person’s life, and geriatric psychiatrists are aware that these events can have a great impact on the patient’s mental well-being.
When they can, geriatric psychiatrists draw readily upon the help of other health care providers in treating the older person, including the use of specially qualified clinical psychologists, social workers, nurses, occupational therapists, speech pathologists, dietitians, and physical therapists. Improving the understanding of family members and providing them with supportive advice and services can be an important part of...
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Perspective and Prospects (Magill’s Medical Guide, Sixth Edition)
In the United States, federal funding has expanded for qualified providers, such as clinical psychologists and social workers, to render mental health services to older people, especially those who live in long-term care facilities. Funds have increased for the proper training of those who provide mental health services to older people. Examinations have been established to show evidence of “added qualifications” in geriatric medicine and psychiatry. More textbooks and specialty journals devoted to geriatric mental health are now in circulation. The federal government has sponsored important national conferences on various aspects of geriatric mental health. With the costs of hospital and long-term care continuing to rise, more emphasis has been given to preventive services and day-care services.
Furthermore, some hospitals have established specialized geropsychiatric units to improve diagnosis and treatment and to decrease the time that older people spend in the hospital. Services are expected to increase for adult children who care for older parents with mental illnesses. Research efforts have increased concerning the causes and appropriate treatment of psychiatric problems in older people. Older people are becoming healthier as they learn more about how mental health and physical health are affected by the way in which one lives: Older people are advised to stop smoking, eat a better diet, exercise more, and...
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For Further Information: (Magill’s Medical Guide, Sixth Edition)
Andreasen, Nancy C., and Donald W. Black. Introductory Textbook of Psychiatry. 4th ed. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Press, 2006. Designed for use by medical and other students, this book provides basic information on psychiatry, various psychiatric disorders, treatments, and special topics such as suicide, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), and disorders of childhood and adolescence.
Bee, Helen L., and Barbara L. Bjorklund. The Journey of Adulthood. 6th ed. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 2009. A comprehensive text that explores the major theories of adult development and covers health and medicine, behavior genetics, cognitive development, social psychology, and social development in the context of adult development. Topics include dealing with stress, conceptualizing the transitions of adulthood, and adult anxiety and depression.
Birren, James E., and K. Warner Schaie, eds. Handbook of the Psychology of Aging. 6th ed. Boston: Academic Press/Elsevier, 2007. Contributions from international researchers explore topics such as the genetics of behavioral aging, environmental influences on aging, gender roles, mental health, declining motor control, wisdom, and technological change and the older worker.
Birren, James E., R. Bruce Sloane, and Gene D. Cohen, eds. Handbook of Mental Health and Aging. 2d ed. San Diego, Calif.: Academic Press, 1992....
(The entire section is 379 words.)