What is old age psychiatry?
Old age psychiatry, geriatric psychiatry or psycho-geriatrics is the field of psychiatry that specialises in the mental health of older people. Although the entry criteria can be based on the age cut off, for instance age of 65 years and above, a functional approach is often preferred. For example, a younger age might be appropriate for some cultural groups or Individuals with younger onset dementia while some elderly individuals with chronic mental illnesses can continue their care with an adult service.
What is an old age psychiatrist, geriatric psychiatrist or psycho-geriatrician?
Old age Psychiatrist is a medical specialist who specialises in old age psychiatry. A psycho-geriatrician can assist in:
- Diagnosis and management of Old age (geriatric) mental illnesses
- Provide secondary consultation to GP’s (family doctor) and other professionals.
- Provide education and training to medical and allied health colleagues
- Geriatric psychiatrist can also provide advocacy for their patients and families.
Why should you know about old age psychiatrists?
There has been a dramatic increase in the number of people in Australia surviving to a late age. In Australia, the proportion of people aged 65 years and over will increase from 13% in 2004 to over 26% by 2051, while those aged 85 years and over will increase from 1.5% of the population in 2004 to 6-8% in 2051.
As the so-called ‘baby boomer’ generation reaches the 65 years and over age group in 2011, the number of people requiring aged care is anticipated to grow rapidly between now and 2030. It is likely that a large majority of these individuals may require mental health interventions.
Better access to health care has significantly reduced morbidity due to physical health conditions but the same cannot be told about mental illness. It is expected that the incidence and prevalence of mental disorders is likely to increase in the coming decades and the demand for old age mental health care is likely to double.
Old age psychiatrists other wise called psycho-geriatricians could assist in differentiating a new onset mental illness, which appeared in old age from those with chronic illnesses progressing into old age.
The first group comprises of those who develop a mental disorder for the first time in late life – for instance, those who develop dementia, late onset schizophrenia, or depression in later life. The second group is those who developed a mental illness earlier in life, and who are now growing older with it. Both these groups will have specific needs that require specialist old age psychiatrist assessment for optimal care provision.
As a group, older people with a mental disorder are in the care of a broad range of services including: general practitioners; residential aged care facilities; community health care; acute hospitals; respite care; old age mental health services; adult mental health services; private psychiatrists and private psychiatric hospitals; and geriatric services including the Aged Care Program.
Thus navigating such systems can be confusing and difficult. Consultation with an old age psychiatrist (geriatric psychiatrist) will help in accurately assessing the mental health needs of the elderly and help in formulating a personalised care plan that suits them.
How can old age psychiatrists at Mindoc Melbourne assist you?
Old age psychiatrists (Geriatric psychiatrists) at Mindoc are medical practitioners with specialised training in mental health of older individuals and are fully qualified to diagnose and medically treat psychiatric conditions such as dementia. Old age psychiatrist at Mindoc, Melbourne (Glen Waverley, VIC) has experience with both private and public settings and would be happy to guide you through this complex journey. Call us today or book online to reserve your consultation with an old age psychiatrist.
Reference: Caring for Older Australians – Submission to the Productivity Commission inquiry into Australia’s aged care system, RANZCP, July 2010