Denise Likar

Q: How many seniors are estimated to have a mental health concern?

A: The latest statistics say that 20% of older adults 55 and over suffer from a mental health condition. There is a wide array of concerns that you will see with them. There are high depression and anxiety rates because of life changes and health changes, as well as issues with grief and loss.

Q: What should providers know about treating mental illness in this population?

A: Sometimes there is a bias in the medical community that feeling depressed is a natural part of aging. It isn’t; it is treatable and preventable. Providers need to listen beyond the health concerns their patients are sharing. They may be pressed for time, but depression and anxiety aren’t going to show up on a lab result. Take a little more time to ask a few more probing questions. See what other underlying issues are going on.

Q: What should providers know about how to treat depression in this population?

A: There are simple screening tools that can be integrated into your practice. There are questions that can be quickly asked to easily identify and open up the conversation. Knowledge is the power here because there isn’t a specific lab result.