IOM Report: US Unprepared To Meet Mental Healthcare Needs Of The Elderly.

The AP (7/11, Neergaard) reports, “A new report finds as many as one in five American seniors has a mental health or substance abuse problem.” What’s more, “as the population rapidly ages over the next two decades, millions of baby boomers may have a hard time finding care and services for mental health problems such as depression — because the nation is woefully lacking in doctors, nurses and other health workers trained for their special needs, the Institute of Medicine said Tuesday.” Rather, the US “is focused mostly on preparing for the physical health needs of what has been called the silver tsunami.”

According to the CNN (7/11, Young) “The Chart” blog, “‘The Mental Health and Substance Use Workforce for Older Americans: In Whose Hands?’ report concludes that Medicare and Medicaid payment codes must be revised to ensure counseling care and other critical services are covered so that doctors are willing to treat patients with these conditions.” The piece quotes one of the report’s authors, Dan G. Blazer, MD, PhD, of the Duke University Medical Center, as saying, “There is a conspicuous lack of national attention to ensuring that there is a large enough health care work force trained to care for older adults with mental health and substance use conditions.” Blazer added, “This report is a wake-up call that we need to prepare now or our older population and their extended families will suffer the consequences.”

The report concludes that “a continued lack of specialists and other trained [clinicians] including primary care physicians and nurses will likely make it difficult for aging patients to receive treatment for depression, dementia and other conditions,”

Related Links:

— “Report: Too little mental health care for seniors, “Lauran Neergaard, USA Today, July 11, 2012.

Posted in In The News.