I recently blogged about the potential benefits of geriatric counseling for older individuals and their families.
Then my husband sent me a link to this July 25 article from the wonderful New York Times blog "The New Old Age" called “More Older People Treated for Depression.” Click on the link to read the entire piece. Some relevant quotes are listed below.
- “For years, mental health specialists lamented that depression was seriously under-diagnosed and under-treated in the elderly. Laypeople saw it not as a disease but as an inevitable part of aging. Doctors missed it because depression didn't always look the way it did in younger patients- less sadness and weepiness, more physical symptoms and disengagement. Older people themselves often rejected help because mental illness carried a stigma.”
- “Not anymore. Over the past decade, ‘we've seen a really big increase in the recognition of depression and the initiation of treatment,’ said Dr. Unützer, a geriatric psychiatrist now at the University of Washington. ‘The bad news is that a lot of these folks aren't a lot better.'"
- “One apparent explanation: the setting. A great majority of older people seek treatment through their primary care doctors, few of whom are able to offer much more than a prescription. One approach that has proved successful is to move more comprehensive care for late-life depression into existing offices and clinics.
- “Among 1,800 depressed people over age 60, a group randomly assigned to collaborative care showed far greater improvement. After a year, 45 percent had at least a 50 percent reduction in depressive symptoms, compared with that dismal 19 percent in usual care. They reported less functional impairment, greater quality of life.”
- “There's an advocacy role for family members to play. Talking to a primary care doctor may be a good way to start treating depression, but in many cases that's not where to stop.”
- In one personal story cited in the blog article, a depressed elderly woman who has not found effective help begins to receive treatment in a comprehensive care center and from a therapist who visits her twice weekly in her assisted living apartment. "It has turned back the clock 10 years," states her adult daughter.