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What is Geriatric Behavioral Health?

by Stacey Rossano on 6/23/14, 11:46 AM

Geriatric behavioral health is the field of geriatric medicine dedicated to diagnosing and treating mental disorders, such as dementia, depression and anxiety, among older people. Board-certified psychiatrists practice this particular field of geriatrics. They receive special training in the physical, emotional and social needs in the geriatric patient; this training equips behavioral mental health practitioners to help older adults and their families deal with family issues, social concerns, medical illnesses, medications, and environmental issues that often plague the elderly.

Why Offer Behavioral Mental Health to Older Adults?

Older adults have a variety of special needs that a behavioral mental health specialist can help with. For geriatric-psychiatryexample, elderly people may suffer memory problems, have difficulty dealing with the death of a spouse, experience anxiety about moving to an assisted care facility or nursing home, or have dementia.

Even people who have never experienced emotional problems in life may benefit from behavioral mental health treatment. The Geriatric Mental Health Foundation says an older person may suffer emotional problem for the first time in his life after developing chronic pain, Parkinson's disease, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, or other medical disorders resulting in a decline of health or function.

What About the Family?

Geriatric behavioral health is also important to everyone in the family. Board-certified psychiatrists help family members understand the changes their older loved ones are going through. These counselors can also give family members ideas on how to provide a warm and loving home to a parent, grandparent or even great-grandparent.

Behavioral mental health is important at all ages but perhaps more so in geriatrics. If you are concerned about the behavioral mental health of an older person, contact a board-certified psychiatrist for more information about geriatric mental health.

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