3 Common Geriatric Psychiatry Treatments

Although the treatment for mental health disorders spans every age, unique considerations are explored in the field of geriatric psychiatry. A psychiatrist who treats conditions specific to the geriatric community must be able to understand the challenges that come with aging as well as recognize the mental and physical disturbances that can develop later in life for some individuals.

Common treatments in geriatric psychiatry

Once a mental health condition of person of geriatric age has been identified, treatment by a psychiatrist who is well-versed in the older population can be beneficial.

1. Individualized psychotherapy

Older adults can develop mental health disorders that were not present earlier in their lives. Coupled with physical illnesses, these disorders require unique case-by-case analysis to determine the best course of treatment.

For many conditions, such as depression, anxiety or mood disorders, therapy sessions tailored to the individual patient’s concerns can be an effective treatment plan. These sessions can often be completed on an outpatient basis, though in more severe cases inpatient treatment centers can be necessary to ensure the patient’s safety. In either case, thorough neuropsychiatric evaluations are completed prior to putting the treatment plan in place.

2. Group therapy programs

Since certain conditions and feelings are common to most geriatric patients, group therapy can be a useful tool to add to a treatment plan. Often used in conjunction with individual therapy and medicine, group therapy helps patients feel less alone and able to connect with others experiencing similar challenges. Educational workshops held in group settings allow patients to learn more about the prevalence of mental health conditions in older adults and help them maintain a semblance of control through knowledge.

Group therapy can take place as part of outpatient care or as a part of inpatient psychiatric treatment. Nontraditional group therapies such as art, music and drama also work well for geriatric patients.

3. Psychopharmacology

In many cases, medication is needed to treat mental conditions that affect the older population. A psychiatrist with knowledge in the field of geriatric psychiatry can study the effects of different medications on the health conditions of patients and determine which ones appropriately serve each patient’s needs. The type, strength and duration of the medication is determined by the type of mental illness, compounding physical illnesses and whether the patient is being treated in an inpatient facility.

Since some conditions are unique to geriatric patients, the psychiatrist must approach medication options with extra care and concern. Patients with dementia or advanced mental illness sometimes cannot verbally express the side effects they are experiencing, so a psychiatrist using psychopharmacology principles also looks for physical and neurological signs that the treatment is working.

Conclusion

Mental health disorders are prevalent across the board for all generations, but some types of conditions have unique concerns among geriatric patients. Due to the specific considerations among the geriatric population, such as compounding physical illness, a psychiatrist treating older adults addresses geriatric psychiatry concerns that are multifaceted and sometimes exclusive to the older adult community.

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