One of the many services we provide at UAB Medical West is our Geriatric Psychiatric Program, which provides quality care for geriatric patients suffering from various psychiatric symptoms and disorders.
Geriatric psychiatry focuses on the biological and psychological changes as we age normally, and how these changes affect people psychiatrically. This area of psychology is becoming more applicable, as across the globe the average human life span has increased significantly in the past 100+ years.
What is it about? Well, typically geriatric psychiatrists are trained to help patients with multiple issues including:
- Feelings of isolation
- Feeling a lack of purpose or usefulness
- Acceptance over the loss of a spouse or friends
- Financial stress
- Fear of death
- Coping with the changes around them
What makes us ‘geriatric’ - it’s a loose term, with it being dependent on the physical/mental condition of the individual. But generally, it’s thought of as being around retirement age.
Dementia is usually tied to Alzheimer’s disease, with an estimated 5 million adults 65 and older have Alzheimer’s disease. (That’s 11% of the senior population.)
Mental illness in seniors is difficult to find voluntarily. Statistically, seniors are much more likely to report physical ailments than psychological/mental ailments. When there are questions about mental acuity, it’s a difficult time for the family, as well as a incredibly frustrating situation for the individual. Oftentimes, it takes a third-party to get involved and help the individual and family determine a course of action.
What to look for, the symptoms of mental illness:
- Sad or depressed mood lasting longer than two weeks
- Social withdrawal; loss of interest in things that used to be enjoyable
- Unexplained fatigue, energy loss, or sleep changes
- Confusion, disorientation, problems with concentration or decision-making
- Increase or decrease in appetite; changes in weight
- Memory loss, especially recent or short-term memory problems
- Feelings of worthlessness, inappropriate guilt, helplessness; thoughts of suicide
- Physical problems that can’t otherwise be explained: aches, constipation, etc.
- Changes in appearance or dress, or problems maintaining the home or yard
- Trouble handling finances or working with numbers
Our goal at UAB Medical West is to help patients return to their optimum level of functioning. We strive to reach these goals by reducing troublesome behavior, returning patients to a stable sleep pattern, and helping patients control and take their medication. Our patients may be admitted to the Geri-Psych Unit through their primary care physician for a referral or through a nursing home/ assisted living referral.
Family Visitation is from 1-2 p.m. and 5-6 p.m. daily, however, other arrangements may be made with nurses based on the situation. A private family room is available for families while they visit their loved ones. For referrals, please call (205) 481-7661