More Seniors Need Care for Mental Health Disorders

By Michelle Seitzer / Posted on 14 December 2012

The bottom line of a new survey conducted by the John A. Hartford Foundation is this: countless seniors are at risk for significant health issues as a result of poor or inadequate treatment of mental health disorders. Survey results were shared in this recent post from McKnight’s Long-Term Care News & Assisted Living.

The numbers are quite startling. Consider these highlights from the article:

  1. 46% of seniors in a treatment group did not get essential follow-up services or support from their providers.
  2. Between 22 and 40 percent of those in the treatment group were not told about the side effects or duration of treatment.
  3. Over 20 percent of participants did not know depression can increase the risk of a heart attack by a third and double the risk of dementia.
  4. Depression is not a normal part of aging, as 25% of survey participants had once believed.


How many seniors are actually affected by mental health issues? You may be surprised by the prevalence: the study reports a formidable nearly one in five.

Clearly, there is an urgent need for providers here: for physicians treating seniors, for family caregivers, for direct care workers in assisted living and skilled nursing facilities, for home care professionals. Anyone working with seniors in a health care capacity should educate themselves on mental health disorders and how best to care for the individuals affected.

Read the full report, entitled “Silver and Blue: The Unfinished Business of Mental Health Care for Older Adults” here.



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