To help address the behavioral health, mental and emotional need that typically occur with geriatric patients, nursing homes offer psychiatric services. Geriatric psychiatry services provide help for patients suffering from dementia, memory problems, depression, anxiety and other less prevalent disorders such as schizophrenia. In addition, psychiatrists in nursing homes also work closely with the nursing staff to help address family issues and help patients cope with medical disorders, such as cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Consultation is provided by multidisciplinary teams headed by a psychiatrist. The team may include psychiatric social workers, neuropsychologists, nurse specialists, psychiatric nurse clinicians and more. The team works together to care for residents whose medical illness generates neuropsychiatric symptoms or whose psychiatric problems affect the patient’s medical condition. The goal is to meet the behavioral health needs of both the patient and their families.
Geriatric psychiatry services at most nursing homes include:
- Diagnostic assessment of disorders of behavior, thought and mood
- Psychopharmacological Consultation
- Decision-making assessments
- Nursing consultation
- Dementia Evaluation
- Neurosychological Testing
- Depression Screening
- AIMS Testing
- Family Consultation/Therapy
- Inservice Training
Nursing home administrators recognize the advantages of having a geriatric psychiatrist onsite or as a permanent consultant of the mental health team. Geriatric psychiatrists have the full range of knowledge and clinical skills to address the psychological, biological and social aspects of late life mental disorders and are uniquely qualified to integrate these complex factors in the assessment and management of geriatric mental health issues. Geriatric psychiatrists not only address residents’ psychiatric problems but help the nursing staff develop effective strategies for coping with the demands of elder care. Among the geriatric population, efficacious therapeutic interventions for psychiatric illness can have a significant impact on the overall quality of life, mortality and patient morbidity. The positive effects are often dramatic.