Geriatric psychiatry provides support through aging
Many positive changes come with aging. Financial independence, freedom to pursue hobbies and more time to spend with loved ones are some such benefits.
But as men and women age, they also must give consideration to those changes few consider until they’re happening. Retirement, loss of a spouse, distance from family, downsizing and fears of illness must be given their due attention so aging adults can get the assistance they need when they need it.
Geriatric psychiatrists can fill the gaps where others cannot.
The American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry defines the profession as a doctor of medicine or doctor of osteopathy with special training in the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders that may occur in older adults. These disorders may include, but are not limited to, dementia, depression, anxiety, late life addiction disorders, and schizophrenia.
Although geriatric psychiatrists can treat these and more, they also may help adults navigate emotional, physical and social needs that come with getting older.
The AAGP estimates that the rate of mental illness among older adults will double over the next 10 years from what it was in 2000. Many of the people treated will need assistance with symptoms of dementia.
The organization Alzheimer’s Disease International indicates there are more than 9.9 million new cases of dementia each year worldwide.
Geriatric psychiatrists can provide specialized care to this unique demographic. Geriatric psychiatrists often focus on prevention, evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of mental and emotional disorders in the elderly, says the American Psychiatric Association, an advocate for improvement of psychiatric care for elderly patients.
Geriatric psychiatrists understand how medication dosage and therapy treatments may need to be customized as one ages. These psychiatrists also can consult with experts in neurology and primary care physicians when there are symptoms across various fields, which may be the case when patients are experiencing memory impairment, anxiety and depression.
Geriatric psychiatrists suggest speaking with mental health professionals early on if symptoms of low mood, restlessness, insomnia, and other hallmarks of potential mental dysfunction are present in elderly patients. This way doctors can step in early and improve their quality of life.