Windward Life Care consultant, Dr. Hossein Samadi, is a geropsychiatrist, a physician trained to work with older adults and their unique mental health needs. As part of our commitment to caring for the whole person, we have arranged for Dr. Samadi to see Windward Life Care clients who can benefit from psychiatric care at our office on a monthly basis. This allows our clients quick access to quality mental health services in a comfortable and familiar setting. We asked Dr. Samadi a few questions recently about mental health and older adults.
Q: What mental health diagnoses do you see most commonly in your older patients?
A: This can be broken down into three categories: mood disorders, cognitive disorders, and psychotic disorders. Among the mood disorders, the most common are depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder. The cognitive disorders vary by cause: Alzheimer’s disease; vascular dementia; frontal-temporal dementia; and others. Finally, though more rare in presentation, the psychotic disorders include schizophrenia, delusional disorder and dementia-related psychosis.
Q: What keeps older adults from accessing mental health treatment and services?
A: Several things, foremost being stigma, both on the part of the individual and society at large. Other factors include denial of illness, lack of access to competent providers, and direct and indirect costs of care.
Q: Are there misconceptions about older adults and mental health?
A; Yes. The most common misconception is that older adults necessarily have neurocognitive impairment or can’t make decisions independently. Other misconceptions include that older adults bounce back quickly from life stressors such as the death of loved ones or that they don’t experience financial difficulties.
Q: Is suicide a concern for older adults?
A; Unfortunately, yes. Suicide risk actually increases with age for both men and women after the age of 40. Risk factors include: prior suicide attempts, access to lethal means, male/single/non-religious demographic, feelings of hopelessness and recent interpersonal loss.
Q: What about family caregivers? What thoughts do you have about their mental health?
A: Caregiver burnout is a real problem and will only grow with the aging population. The first priority needs to be taking care of the caregiver, as their physical and mental health is often overlooked in favor of the needs of the patient.
Q: What advice do you have for older adults who want to maintain good mental health?
A: Get back to basics: maintain a balanced diet, exercise, socialize, and never stop learning. If a problem arises, seek professional help sooner rather than later.
At Windward Life Care, we are committed to helping you find the right resources to meet your needs. If you are looking for more information about healthcare for mental or physical concerns, talk to us to locate the best providers for your situation. We’re here to help!