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Hospital Healthcare Europe

Poor elderly mental healthcare


13 August, 2007  

Services for older people with mental health problems are inadequate, an independent panel has warned. More than 3.5 million older people have mental health problems according to the UK Inquiry into Mental Health and Well-Being in Later Life.

But years of under-funding and age discrimination in mental health services prevent people from obtaining support and treatment, they said. The government said they had set out guidance on improving services. According to the inquiry, up to one in four people over 65 and two in five people over 85 are suffering depression or serious symptoms of depression and one in five people over 80 suffer dementia.

There are also higher rates of suicide in people over the age of 75.

Yet older people with mental health problems are often ignored and receive little support, the Inquiry concluded.

It is estimated that two-thirds of older people with depression never even discuss it with their GPs, and of the third that do discuss it, only half are diagnosed and treated. Even when they are diagnosed, older people are less likely to be offered treatment and the inquiry said some GPs believe depression is simply a symptom of growing older.