Thursday, December 13, 2012

Older Americans Concerned About Mental Health Care They Receive, Survey Finds

A survey released today of Americans aged 65 and older finds troubling gaps in the care these individuals receive for mental illnesses. Among the key findings are that 46% of seniors who are in treatment for a mental health problem said their provider did not follow up with them within a few weeks of their beginning treatment to see how they were doing and that 38% said that their provider had not discussed the possible side effects of prescribed medications. The findings are from a survey of more than 1,300 older adults conducted in November and published in a report by the John A. Hartford Foundation, which describes itself as "a committed champion of health care training, research, and service-system innovations that will ensure the well-being and vitality of older adults."

In addition, 33% of respondents said their provider failed to discuss treatment options, 40% said there was no discussion of how long treatment might last, and 34% said they were not told what steps to take if their condition seemed to worsen. The survey also asked survey participants about their knowledge of depression. Judging from the responses, considerably more education is needed, particularly regarding the links between depression and overall health. For example, only 34% were aware that depression is associated with a substantial risk of heart disease, a link that has been described in multiple studies and reported extensively.

To read more about the findings of this survey, click here. To read more about the relationship between depression and cardiovascular disease, see Psychiatric News here and here. Read more about depression and aging in the American Journal of Psychiatry here.

(image: Alexander Raths/


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