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Geriatric Psychiatry: Can Your Parent Benefit?

Posted by Kathy Stewart
Date:

An Aegis of Living resident watches a staff nurse check her vital signs

While sitting around the dining room table over the holidays, did you notice a change in your parent’s behavior?  Did their attitude or demeanor concern you?  Holidays can be stressful for many of us, but the elderly can be particularly vulnerable to depression due to poor health, isolation, or cognitive impairment.

Depression and anxiety are not an intrinsic part of the aging process.  If your aging parent is suffering from depression, anxiety, dementia and other mental disorders, these conditions can be treated.  In fact, the elderly population can benefit from treatment as much as a younger person.  A geriatric psychiatrist may be a good option for your parent to improve their quality of life and find relief from unnecessary suffering.

What is geriatric psychiatry?

Geriatric psychiatry is the specialty in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of mental and emotional disorders in the elderly.  Common disorders in late-life patients include dementia, depression, anxiety, alcohol abuse, substance abuse, and sleep disorders.  Geriatric psychiatrists create treatment plans that address the physical, emotional, and social care needs unique to an elderly patient to improve their quality of life and relieve their symptoms.

How can a geriatric psychiatrist help your mom or dad?

A geriatric psychiatrist can help your parent better manage common issues that many aging seniors face, including:

  • Grief and stress over the death of spouse, relative, or friend/neighbor
  • Feeling of loneliness, isolation, and lack of purpose in their life
  • Emotional stress caused by the challenges associated with acute illnesses and other health concerns
  • Tension and anxiety experienced due to mobility issues or living conditions, including financial strains and overwhelming home maintenance
  • Severe depression or heightened anxiety that impacts their daily life
  • Intense fear of terminal illness or death
  • Alcohol and substance abuse
  • Anti-social behaviors like aggression, agitation, repetitive behaviors, outbursts, and extreme mood swings that occur in those with dementia

As their caregiver, consult with your parent’s geriatrician or primary care doctor if you are concerned about their mental and emotional health.  Their doctor can recommend a geriatric psychiatrist, who can help your parent adapt to and manage the changes in their life.   Also, the Geriatric Mental Health Foundation has an online resource to find a geriatric psychiatrist within your city who is a member of the American Association of Geriatric Psychiatry.  Your parent shouldn’t needlessly suffer from mental health and emotional issues.  Support is available that can help them focus their physical health, reduce their stress, enjoy time spent with others, and improve their overall quality of life.

If you would like a local reference contact one our Aegis Living communities near you and ask to speak with our Health Services Director who can help.