According to a recent Los Angeles Times report from the American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting, the United States needs to prepare itself for the growing number of elderly people with dementia and other mental illnesses—as the first group of baby boomers are turning 65 this year.
The problem, according to the report, is not due to an increase in mental illness with older people— but rather that 20% of this country’s population will be 65 and older by 2030. This will be a 12% increase from now.
The average life expectancy is also increasing with seniors, so elderly people who suffer from mental problems like dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease are living longer, with illnesses that can cause forms of behavior that are aggressive, with disorientation, delusions, nursing home wandering and other behavior, leading to harm or resident injury.
A recent Queen’s Medical Center study in Honolulu, Hawaii, found that the number of senior patients with mental illnesses receiving emergency treatment has spiked, with a 30% jump from 2008-2009. Many elderly patients were reportedly brought into the hospital by caregivers or family members who were unable to deal with the severe symptoms of the mental illnesses, and were exhausted or overwhelmed by the caregiving. The study found that emergency room treatment often occurs after many attempts of local placement for the senior.
These elderly dementia patients in emergency rooms have much longer hospital stays than other types of patient, according to Brett Y. Lu, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Hawaii, and they are becoming a disadvantaged and under-served population in the country.
In Maryland or the Washington D.C. area, contact Lebowitz and Mzhen, LLC today.
Preparing for a groundswell of elderly people with mental illness, Los Angeles, Times, May 16, 2011
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