All too often, depression and dementia are overlooked in older adults because of the popular misconception that aging is always characterized by confusion, low spirits, and low energy. On the contrary, these are not inevitable by-products of aging, but treatable disorders.
The highly regarded UPMC Senior Care-Benedum Geriatric Center is UPMC’s primary ambulatory care services site for older persons with complex problems, including frail older adults who have multiple diagnoses and health care needs. WPIC provides psychiatric services at the center targeted specifically to the geriatric population.
Any significant change in an older person’s behavior, demeanor, and attitude may be due to depression. Personality typically remains fairly constant throughout a person’s lifetime; it is not the case that everyone becomes irritable in old age. Physical complaints often are among the symptoms of depression in older patients, as well as disorientation and memory lapses.
Family members may find these symptoms alarming, particularly in the elders they have always relied upon. But depression in late life responds quite well to treatment, and patients and their families can be helped to manage even devastating illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease.
At WPIC, our approach to geriatric psychiatry emphasizes compassionate care, respect for older adults, and support for their families. We offer older adults thorough evaluations and treatment plans attuned to their specific physical and emotional needs. The goal is to help patients remain as independent as possible and to enable them to live in their homes and communities for as long as they can. Programs include inpatient, outpatient, and in-home levels of care.
Professional staff have specialty training and certification in geriatrics as well as access to the latest clinical knowledge and research developments in the field. Among older adults, mental health problems often are intertwined with other medical illnesses, so it is crucial to call upon the expertise of specialists who understand these complexities. As part of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, WPIC can offer this comprehensive care.
For information on programs and services for older adults provided through WPIC, UPMC, the University of Pittsburgh, and various community organizations, call the University of Pittsburgh Institute on Aging referral service, toll-free, at 866-430-8742. The Institute on Aging can provide information on medical care and treatment, hospitals, home care and long-term care, social services, insurance, housing, caregiver support, legal services, and research studies.