Older Adult Mental Health

Care and Support for Conditions Affecting Older Adults

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Overview

McLean Hospital clinicians are experts in older adult mental health, including treatment, research, and education for conditions both unique to older adults (like dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, memory impairment) and those with unique challenges for people in this age group (such as depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety).

Psychiatric care of older adults can include managing the normal effects of mental and physical changes of aging, but also focuses on the psychological and neurological changes that can worsen as the body and brain get older. According to the World Health Organization, mental health and neurological disorders among older adults account for 6.6% of the total disability for this age group, and approximately 15% of adults aged 60 and over suffer from a mental health disorder.

Find more information below on definitions, treatment programs at McLean, and helpful resources like websites, articles, and books.

Older Adult Mental Health Treatment at McLean

McLean Hospital provides comprehensive diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up care for individuals ages 50 and older who are experiencing emotional, cognitive, or behavioral symptoms. These may include memory loss, mood disturbances, anxiety, Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias, difficulty coping with losses and transitions, or behavioral conditions that interfere with care at home or in a long-term care setting.

Our older adult programs utilize proven treatment models informed by basic and clinical research. Our interdisciplinary team of expert clinicians and support staff have chosen geriatrics as their specialty and pride themselves on providing compassionate and efficient care. We work together to collaborate with patients and families to provide first-class treatment in a comfortable environment.

Treatment options include short-term acute inpatient care geared towards stabilization for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and thought disorders, as well as those coping with loss, bereavement, and changes in functioning, behavior, and agitation. We also offer outpatient services focused on follow-up care and dedicated to skill building and symptom reduction for patients with an array of psychiatric conditions who do not require hospitalization.

The main components of care include diagnostic evaluation, solution-focused treatment, group therapy, behavioral strategies, medication evaluation and management, and aftercare planning. Consultation services are also available, including internal medicine, neurology, imaging, rehabilitation medicine, nutrition services, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).

Geriatric Psychiatry Inpatient Services
Comprehensive diagnosis and treatment for individuals ages 50 and older who are experiencing emotional, cognitive, or behavioral symptoms.

Geriatric Psychiatry Outpatient Services
An array of services are available for adults ages 50 and older with depression, anxiety, and cognitive function disorders.

What Is Unique about Older Adult Mental Health?

Geriatric psychiatry focuses on evaluation, prevention, diagnosis, and care of ailments including cognitive impairments like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, and mood disorders such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. Treatment also takes into account the effects of caring for older adults and can address support for families and caregivers as well as patients.

Dementia, also known as major neurocognitive disorder, is a collection of symptoms that severely affect memory and thoughts so as to interfere with daily functions. Dementia is the persistent interruption of brain processes, most often evident in memory impairments, changes in personality, and inability to reason. Dementia is often complicated by mood disorders like depression or bipolar disorder.

Treatment at McLeanAlzheimer’s disease is a progressive form of dementia, often starting with mild memory difficulties and moving to a steady decline of memory and brain function. Though many organizations are actively researching causes, medications, and cures for Alzheimer’s, current treatments can often delay the progression of the disease, but there is currently no cure. Care and support are of primary importance in the treatment of older adults with Alzheimer’s.

Bipolar disorder is a chronic mental illness that causes dramatic shifts in a person’s mood, energy, and ability to think clearly. People with bipolar have high and low moods, known as mania and depression, which differ from the typical ups and downs most people experience. If left untreated, the symptoms usually get worse. However, with a strong lifestyle that includes self-management and a good treatment plan, many people live well with the condition. Bipolar disorder is often under-diagnosed in older adults.

Research into causes, cures, and symptom reduction is a crucial aspect of older adult care. At McLean, our programs utilize care models and treatments based on clinical and neuroscience research, including cutting-edge studies conducted by investigators in McLean’s Geriatric Psychiatry Clinical Research Program. Research conducted at McLean is exploring ways to slow down disease progression of Alzheimer’s disease, potential treatments for behavioral complications of Alzheimer’s dementia (such as agitation, anxiety, sleep disorders, and mood disturbance), as well as aspects of depression and bipolar disorder, memory loss, and more. Patients in McLean’s older adult mental health programs may be asked to join in studies as research subjects. Study participation is voluntary, and declining does not affect access to care.

Older Adult Mental Health Resources

Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia

Depression and Bipolar Disorder

Caregiver Resources

Older Adult Mental Health

Interesting Articles

Books About Older Adult Mental Health

McLean Hospital faculty have penned more than 50 books in recent years, including these books about geriatric mental health.

Bipolar Disorder in Older PatientsBipolar Disorder in Older Age Patients
by Susan W. Lehmann and Brent P. Forester, editors
(Springer, 2017)


Geriatric Forensic PsychiatryGeriatric Forensic Psychiatry: Principles and Practice
by Jacob C. Holzer, Robert Kohn, James M. Ellison, Patricia R. Recupero, editors
(Oxford, 2017)


Learn More

Looking for information on another mental health condition? Visit one of these pages to find out more.

ADDICTION ANXIETY AND OCD
BIPOLAR DISORDER AND SCHIZOPHRENIA BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER
CHILD AND ADOLESCENT MENTAL HEALTH DEPRESSION
EATING DISORDERS TRAUMA
CLINICAL RESOURCES