Helping Seniors with Depression & Behavioral Health Issues

How much do you know about depression? This common behavioral health disorder is a medical illness that responds to treatment. We know that about one in 10 people in the United States is affected by depression and it can affect women and men of all ages. Depression is not a natural part of aging but rather a medical condition that should be treated aggressively.

Depression in older adults, or in anyone, should not be thought of as normal. Some groups are at higher risk, but the average older person is not depressed any more than a young person. Depression is an illness that affects around 14 of every 100 adults older than 65 in the U.S. Factors that may add to an older adult's risk for depression is experiencing a loss of control over changes related to the aging process and losing people that they love.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), these are typical signs of depression:

•    Sleep problems, including too little, too much or rising earlier than desired
•    Decreased pleasure and interest in previously enjoyed activities
•    Decreased energy or concentration
•    Appetite increase or decrease
•    Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
•    Thoughts of death or suicide
•    Self-destructive and suicidal behavior

Medication, psychotherapy or a combination of both can be effective in treating depression. Mild cases of depression may be eased by psychotherapy alone. People with moderate to severe depression often are helped with antidepressant medication.

You can help prevent depression by staying active and being connected to other people through family, community activities, senior groups or church.

If you notice signs of depression in yourself, a friend or a family member, don't wait until it becomes severe. Discuss your individual needs with your health care provider, or talk to the person with depression, and encourage him or her to speak to a doctor and seek treatment from a mental health professional.

Sometimes, depression leads to severe behavioral changes. Lovelace Behavioral Senior Care is designed to meet the needs of people 50 and older who are experiencing significant deterioration in cognitive functioning or other associated behavioral issues, such as:

•    Depression, suicidal thoughts and grief issues
•    Anxiety and social withdrawal
•    Substance Abuse
•    Severe agitation and behavioral disturbance
•    Delusions and hallucinations
•    Memory loss and impaired function

Patients are treated through a short-term program of comprehensive assessments, medication evaluation, and stabilization before a coordinated return to an appropriate environment. We have a team of skilled psychiatrists, specialty physicians, nurses, master level therapists, discharge planners and other professional staff dedicated to improving the quality of life of seniors. Lovelace's philosophy is one of working together with family, physicians, long-term care providers and other agencies involved to meet the health care needs of its patients.

Patients are seen daily by a psychiatrist and receive a psychosocial evaluation within 24 hours of admission. A treatment plan is completed within 48 hours. On-staff physicians allow patients to remain with the same doctor from admission to discharge. Referral sources receive a follow-up call on the day of evaluation/admission. Our services include:

•    Acute psychiatric inpatient hospitalization (50 years of age and older)
•    Geriatric behavioral health issues
•    Substance abuse detox
Clinic evaluators are available 24/7 by calling 505.727.8855.

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