Most effects of aging on the body are visible – creaky joints, heart disease and poor eyesight. But, a national study last year revealed that one in five American seniors have more hidden mental health or substance abuse problems as well.
The report involved researchers at Duke University who discovered that as many as eight million seniors have a mental health condition or substance abuse disorder, mainly depressive disorders and psychiatric symptoms related to dementia.
"Everyone experiences some decline in their memory ability as they get older," notes Stephen Salloway, MD, MS, co-director of the Memory and Aging Program at Butler Hospital. "But, for some people, that decline interferes with their daily activities and, in the case of dementia, changes the person's personality and behavior."
Memory loss, depression, anxiety and cognitive disorders in the senior population require specialized attention and care. Butler Hospital's Senior Treatment Unit provides care and support for men and women over the age of 65 with such psychiatric conditions as:
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- Memory disorders like Alzheimer's disease
- Cognitive disorders that may cause behavioral difficulties
- Movement disorders
Treatment programs and activities take place on the Senior Treatment Unit, which was designed with a special focus on the safety of seniors and offers a warm, comfortable environment. The Unit includes a sunny dining room, a salt water fish tank and fully accessible patient rooms.
On the Unit, seniors are involved in a combination of individual treatment, group therapy, and medication. If the patient agrees, their family members and other significant people are invited to participate in treatment.
Daily activities can include:
- Sensorimotor groups
- Occupational therapy groups
- Community meetings
- Spiritual care
- Pet-assisted therapy
For more information on the mental health services available for seniors and their families, go to www.butler.org/seniortreatment or call 401-455-6403.