The population of older individuals in the U.S. is growing. Older adults are less likely to seek or receive treatment, compared with middle-aged populations. There are specific challenges with regard to engaging this population in treatment. Older adults are also more likely to present challenges for assessment in some areas, such as differentiation of grief and major depressive disorder. Symptom presentations in, for example, psychosis or depression can differ. Co-morbid physical illnesses are much more common, as are the medications used to treat these illnesses, and these complicate psychiatric treatment. The metabolism of medications and likely side effects change as individuals age. Cognitive issues can be more common. Specific treatment approaches have been developed and should be used in older adults with serious mental illness.
For more information, view the presentation below that discusses the evidence regarding assessment and treatment of serious mental illness in older adults, and strategies for engaging these older adults in treatment.
Improving Clinical Skills Webinar Series: Serious Mental Illness (SMI) and Older Adults (University of New Mexico Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences)