Traditionally, geriatric psychiatry is the practice of psychiatry in adults age 65 and up. However, given the wide variation of health and socioeconomic factors at play, it may be more helpful to think about “SENIOR PSYCHIATRY” as the practice of psychiatry in older adults who have specific issues. Here are some of the issues specific to this population:
- Social transitions – out of the workplace, out of caregiving roles. This can be a very difficult process for people who identified strongly with their work or their caregiving role. Common psychiatric issues include depression and anxiety.
- Grief – the death of a spouse or the sudden loss of function due to medical issues are also common problems. Grief is a normal human emotion but it can lead to a major depressive episode or other symptoms. Counseling can be extremely helpful for these situations.
- Neurocognitive changes – the brain is an organ and it changes with age. Memory can start to change as early as age 35 and cardiovascular disease can impair brain function. History of drug or alcohol use, or active substance use can complicate the situation. Medications can affect cognitive functioning, especially opioid pain medications.
- Mind-body changes – the interplay between mind and body can get very complicated for older adults. Physical symptoms can lead to depression and anxiety; depression and anxiety can lead to physical symptoms. Understanding the mind-body can be complicated and having a team of primary care and psychiatry can be very helpful to improve outcomes and relieve symptoms.
If you’re experiencing any of these changes, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We can be reached at (919) 636-5240 and offer same- or next-day appointments.
To your mental health,
Dr. Jennie Byrne