Mental Health Care for Older Adults: Survey Results to Date!

august18_2013In connection with our post, “Older Adults Need Specialized Mental Health Care” on July 2, we asked readers to answer a brief survey about mental health care for older people.

We figured it was a good time to bring you the results so far, and to invite you to participate in the survey.

Of all of the results, there were two items of particular interest to us at CFYM.

64.5% of respondents indicated that they know an older person who they believe has a mood disorder but who is not diagnosed or treated. We are hopeful that changes in care under the Affordable Care Act will help to remedy that deficiency, but it’s likely that it will take more than changes in the law. Many older adults will have to reconsider their perceptions of mental health, as well as their expectations of maintaining mental wellness and happiness during their later years. Also, their physicians need to learn more about the special mental health care needs of older adults.

What else will help reduce the number of older adults who are likely living with a mood disorder but who are not diagnosed or treated?

A startling 80.6% of respondents indicated their belief that the older person’s primary care physician is not equipped to address issues relating to mood disorders. Our health care system highly values the relationship between patient and primary care provider, and people who are not dealing with any specialized health needs rely on their PCP to tend to the entirety of their health care needs. The overwhelming perception that PCPs are ill-equipped to address mental health needs (particularly mood disorders) raises significant concerns.

Are PCPs more able to manage mental health care than consumers expect, or is there a real need for PCPs to be better trained on mental health care, for mental health care services to be more readily available from other providers, or a combination of these – or something else entirely? Will integrative care help to overcome this perceived deficiency?

Here are the results. Tell us what you think!

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4 comments
brandon6348
brandon6348

While I strongly believe in suicide prevention, there does need to be a clean, legal, and medically responsible way for someone, with rational forethought and after discussion with professionals, to end their life, if they are  in acute and constant pain and no option, other than medically turning them into zombies, exits. I have severe depression, 24/7/365 for the past 30 to 35 years, am otherwise very healthy, but can not endure the constant pain much longer.  I would like to be able to donate organs and  use my body for medical research / medical school, etc., but that is not possible now.  No medicine or medical treatment, and I've tried all that I know of except deep brain stimulation, has worked, and HMO's won't approve experimental treatments, even simple ones such as bringing hormone levels to the level  they were at their max ( when my depression began ), etc., some of which are not that expensive.  I do medical studies, read extensively on the subject, and am as pro-active as I possibly can be. 

DBSAlliance
DBSAlliance

@brandon6348

Brandon, thoughts and feelings like yours are faced by far too many people. This is one of the reasons it’s important for us to keep working together to make a variety of treatments accessible to all who need them. Here at DBSA, through our personal experiences, we know these feelings of hopelessness that can arise. Through these same personal experiences, we also know that these thoughts and situations can be changed. We urge you and anyone else who feels as you do to immediately reach out to your clinician and trusted friends to share what you’ve shared here. They can help you find ways to access effective treatments and other wellness options. For immediate assistance, please call (800) 273-TALK (8255) and/or 911.

brandon6348
brandon6348

@DBSAlliance @brandon6348 

Hi:  Thanks for your response.  However, I HAVE tried everything available, regularly see my doctors, participate in studies that involve lots of professional care and discussion, share my thoughts and feelings with all my doctors, etc, and neither the doctors at my HMO, Kaiser Permanente, nor the doctors and professors at Stanford Medical School have any answers.  My problem is way beyond feelings of hopelessness - - - additionally I have pain, mental and sometimes physical, etc. most of the time.  My illness is like torture, and no one that I know has any effective treatments for this, except drugging, which is no way to live.  Life is much more than just being able to take the next breath.  I don't really think you truly understand the pain that those  like me face, thus you don't understand why we consider suicide.  If you know something that my doctors at Kaiser and the psychiatrists/professors at the Stanford Medical School don't know, please tell me. I sometimes go to NAMI and DBSA support groups, helped lead the San Mateo DBSA group for a while, man booths for NAMI, am a committee member of the San Mateo NAMI, did a 5 month study at the NIH, and have been to numerous NAMI and DBSA state and national conventions, and have a master's degree, so I am not a naive, uninformed sufferer.

Sincerely, Brandon 

kathy2
kathy2

I believe that integrated care is the best solution for elderly persons who apparently are developing symptoms of a mental illness.  These can be medically treated, and the joint effort among all healthcare providers should be placing a high priority on diagnosis of mental illness.  If the PCP has had special training in mental illness, that would make all of the other professionals more likely to form a bridge with the PCP.