The medical model in psychiatry assumes medical intervention is the treatment of choice for the constellations of diagnosed symptoms that comprise various mental disorders. These treatments may include pharmacotherapy, electroconvulsive treatment, brain stimulation, and psychosurgery. Therefore, psychopharmacology for older adults can be considered palliative rather than a cure for a brain disease causing psychopathology. Older adults experience many psychopathological problems, including anorexia tardive, anxiety disorders, delusional disorders, mood disorders, personality disorders, schizophrenia, and co-occurring disorders with substance abuse/dependence disorders. Therefore, it is critical for the social worker to understand the various manifestations of psychological problems in older adults from the perspective of an older adult, rather than extrapolating information commonly taught in social work programs that neglect to focus on older adults and restrict teaching to psycho-pathological problems in younger and middle-aged adults.
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The baby boom cohort brings with it multiple types of substance abuse. Bisexual older adults have more co-occurring psychological problems than heterosexual older adults, older gay males, and older lesbians. An interesting finding is that immigration is contributory to older adult substance abuse. Older adults with alcohol-abuse problems do not seek help for their problems. Rather, they are often identified as having an alcohol-use problem when seeking care for other medical or psychological problems. Social workers assessing an older adult for alcohol abuse often confuse symptoms of possible alcohol abuse with dementia. Prescribing opioids and synthetic opioids to an older adult is complicated. An older adult can suffer from many forms of inner tension. Combining motivational interviewing with cognitive behavioral therapy is shown to be more effective for treating substance abuse that either therapeutic modality alone.
For older adults, the phenomenon of death is accepted and does not induce the fear experienced by younger adults. Older adults who do not engage in end-of-life planning may receive unwanted, unnecessary, costly, and painful medical interventions or withdrawal of desired treatment. Many older people feel that the goal of palliative care is to make the best possible dying experience for the older adult and his/her family. In addition to palliative care, an older adult will most likely find himself or herself in an intensive care unit as part of his or her terminal care. Euthanasia, or hastened death, is seen by some as an alternative to palliative care. A psychological aspect of death that an older adult is concerned with, in addition to place of death, is whether he or she will die in his or her sleep or die suddenly, making the death experience an individual phenomenon.
Multiple physical changes can impair the mental health of the aging individual. These changes include: acid-based imbalances, dehydration, electrolyte changes, hypothermia or hyperthermia, and hypothyroidism. This chapter reviews the most common mental health disorders affecting the elderly population and trends affecting care delivery. Moreover, chronic, unresolved pain has been associated with an increased risk of a mental health disorder such as depression, suicide, or anxiety. The aging individual may exhibit signs and symptoms of insomnia such as sleeping for short periods during the night, sleeping during times of normal social activities, arising early in the morning while others sleep, and experiencing daytime sleepiness. The chapter concludes by applying the nursing process from an interpersonal perspective to the care of an elderly patient with a mental health disorder.
This chapter focuses on informal caregiving among minority groups. It also focuses on context of caregiving and discuss the various specific challenges caregivers of minority older adults face. The chapter examines some of the specific caregiving interventions tailored for families of color and discuss the implications for practice, policy, and research. Medical advances and greater longevity point to healthier and longer lives for many, but both formal and informal caregiving remain a concern as individuals age and develop conditions that require care. Caregivers are often able to realize the positive aspects of caregiving when they are not struggling with financial or social support challenges. Despite the vast literature on caregiving in general, research pertaining to the needs and experiences of racial/ethnic minority older adults and their caregivers is limited, particularly for American Indians, Pacific Islanders, specific Asian American and Latino subgroups, and religious minorities groups such as Muslim Americans.
This chapter discusses current thinking in the field of social support and social relationships, and physical and mental health among older racial and ethnic minorities. Social relationships are an important predictor of health and psychological well-being across the life course. Many minority older adults will face the continued challenges of declining functional status due to physical and mental health conditions over the course of their lives. Most empirical studies on social support among older racial and ethnic minority adults explore the association between social support and both physical and mental health. The wealth of studies on social support among minority older adults has much to offer with respect to understanding the correlates of emotional support and patterns of assistance. The biological mechanisms explaining the link between social support and physical health outcomes have been largely unexplored among older racial and ethnic minority groups.
- Go to chapter: Informal Social Support Networks of African American, Latino, Asian American, and Native American Older Adults
Informal Social Support Networks of African American, Latino, Asian American, and Native American Older Adults
This chapter provides a selective review of research on social support among older African American, Hispanic, Asian American, and Native American adults. It focuses on social support as a dependent variable in relation to different sources and types of aid provided to older African American, Hispanic, Asian American, and Native American adults. The chapter highlights the findings in three specific areas: marriage and romantic relationships, extended family and non-kin as sources of informal social support, and black-white differences in informal social support. Informal social support networks are critical for individuals of all ages but especially for older adults who are dealing with difficult life circumstances. Older African Americans depend on informal social support networks of family and friends for assistance in emergency situations, as well as for help with various tasks of daily life. Elderly Asians often utilize kin and social support networks for a variety of reasons.
To truly understand how important and central memory is to us, it is important to understand what life is like for people who experience memory loss, or amnesia. This chapter examines the amnestic syndrome, which has been widely studied and the knowledge of which has significantly influenced theories of memory. The abilities and nonabilities of those with amnestic syndrome demonstrate that there are multiple independent systems of memory. The chapter also examines two controversial diagnoses, the main feature of which is memory loss dissociative identity disorder (DID) and psychogenic or dissociative amnesia. It discusses a form of memory loss that does not fit the technical definition of amnesia because it eventually affects not just memory but all cognition: Alzheimer’s disease (AD). AD is common among older adults and demonstrates how a worsening loss of memory and cognition can lead to a complete disruption of everyday life.Source:
The clinical social worker typically interfaces with older adult clients and their families in a variety of settings, providing diverse services ranging from assessment to clinical treatment to referral. This chapter discusses the ways in which cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) techniques can be used by social workers across different milieu to assist elderly clients who may be suffering from depression. These settings include the client’s home, an inpatient or outpatient mental health facility, a hospital or medical setting, a long-term care facility, or a hospice setting. The chapter provides an overview of how cognitive behavior techniques can be integrated throughout the range of services social workers may provide to elderly clients. Clinical examples demonstrate the use of CBT in a variety of settings. For many older adult clients, issues related to the need for increasing dependence on family, friends, and paid caretakers may become the central focus of counseling.
- Go to chapter: The Productive Engagement of Older African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and Native Americans
This chapter provides definitions and theoretical perspectives regarding the productive engagement of older adults. It explores the productive engagement of four ethnic minority groups African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, and Native Americans. The chapter discusses programs and policies that will help increase the productive engagement of older adults. It is possible that older adults will be judged by their ability to be productive and expected to be productive. Those older adults who have been disadvantaged across the life course will continue to be disadvantaged in later life when they still face discrimination in access to or support for productive engagement. Both definitions and theoretical perspectives are important to understanding the productive engagement of older racial/ethnic minorities. At the societal level, increasing the productive engagement of older adults, in general, may increase the supply of experienced employees, volunteers, and caregivers.