Physical disabilities are only one form of ailment that affects local seniors. Beyond problems with injuries and bodily weaknesses, our Illinois nursing home neglect attorneys know that mental health issues are just as dangerous for aging seniors. In fact, many local residents move into nursing home and other assisted living situations not because of any physical infirmities, but because of mental illnesses that make it dangerous for the senior to live alone without serious risk of harm. Mental vulnerabilities also make a senior more prone to suffer from Illinois nursing home abuse or neglect. For that reason, it is critical to understand the severity of these mental health challenges and account for the possible implications.
In fact, a new report from the Institute of Medicine shed light on the overall demographics of mental health in seniors. The report offers clear evidence that these issues are very real and quite common.
As reported in Health Day, the report, entitled The Mental Health and Substance Use Workforce for Older Adults, was mandated in order for Congress to examine long-term health care needs for this community. Considering the senior population is expected to reach over 72 million in less than two decades, the need to plan for the care needs of these individuals is self-evident.
Alarmingly, the report found that one in five seniors (20%) have some form of mental health condition. For purposes of the study the mental health conditions include a range of issues with the most common being depression, dementia-related behavior, and “at-risk drinking.” This list does not even include a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.
Even further, the study found that a significant portion of that group–about 2 million seniors total–suffer from a “severe” mental illness. Doctors connected with the research note that this problem is “under-appreciated.” Others argue that they hope the report is a real wake-up call to address the problem before it reaches epidemic levels.
For one thing, our Illinois elder abuse attorneys appreciate that right now there is a lack of sufficient long-term care options for these individuals, and the problem will only worsen as the senior population grows. The report authors note that in investigation the resources available to help these seniors what they found was ” a health care workforce that is not prepared to address either problems or the special needs of an aging population.”
Not only are there an insufficient number of caregivers available to provide the necessary support, but many are simply untrained to deal with the specific issues faced by the community. For example, seniors with substance abuse issues almost always have the problem in combination with physical health problems. Many caregivers are trained to deal with the physical issues but have little experience with mental health or substance abuse concerns. Therefore, the best care–combining mental and physical support–is often lacking.
It is vital public leaders properly address these concerns in the coming years and months.
Please CLICK HERE to read the full report from the Institute of Medicine.
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