Geriatric Psychiatry is a Psychiatry of Old Age


Geriatric psychiatry, also known as geropsychiatry, psychogeriatrics or psychiatry of old age. It is a subspecialty of psychiatry dealing with the study, prevention, and treatment of mental disorders in humans with old age. As the population ages, particularly in developing countries, this field is becoming more needed. The diagnosis, treatment and management of dementia and depression are two areas of this field.

Mental health and medical care of older adults: The association believes that mental health care for older adults is crucial, and should be covered by insurance companies, regardless of where these adults receive their care. They also believe that mental health care for older adults should be integrated into a comprehensive health care system which provides “accessible, affordable, and culturally appropriate” care. Additionally, they believe that advisory boards for managed care providers should include geriatricians and geriatric psychiatrists, to guarantee that the provided coverage appropriately meets the needs of the patients. The association also suggests that healthcare providers receive training on the unique challenges and aspects of geriatric mental health care. Finally, they stress the importance of federal funding and research concerning late-life mental disorders. These include various maladaptations related to mood, behaviour, cognition, and perceptions.

Initial psychiatric assessment of a person typically begins with a case history and mental status examination. Physical examinations and psychological tests may be conducted. On occasion, neuroimaging or other neurophysiological techniques are used. Mental disorders are often diagnosed in accordance with clinical concepts listed in diagnostic manuals such as the International Classification of Diseases (ICD), edited and used by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the widely used Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The fifth edition of the DSM (DSM-5) was published in 2013 which re-organized the larger categories of various diseases and expanded upon the previous edition to include information/insights that are consistent with current research. The combined treatment of psychiatric medication and psychotherapy has become the most common mode of psychiatric treatment in current practice, but contemporary practice also includes a wide variety of other modalities, e.g., assertive community treatment, community reinforcement, and supported employment. Treatment may be delivered on an inpatient or outpatient basis, depending on the severity of functional impairment or on other aspects of the disorder in question.

Geriatric psychiatry emphasizes the biological and psychological aspects of normal aging, the psychiatric effect of acute and chronic physical illness, and the biological and psychosocial aspects of the pathology of primary psychiatric disturbances of older age. Geriatric psychiatrists focus on prevention, evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of mental and emotional disorders in the elderly and improvement of psychiatric care for healthy and ill elderly patients.

With regards

Katherine Gray| Managing Editor
Journal of Aging and Geriatric Medicine

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