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Warning on elderly mental health.

Cases of mental illness among the elderly will rise sharply over the next 30 years, and the current health-care system is ill-equipped to deal with this surge, according to a consensus statement of geriatric and mental-health professionals published in the September ARCHIVES OF GENERAL PSYCHIATRY.

The number of people in the United States older than 65 years with psychiatric disorders will reach 15 million in 2030, estimate the statement's authors, led by psychiatrist Dilip V. Jeste of the University of California, San Diego. About 6 million elderly people met criteria for mental disorders in 1990.

A number of trends point to "an upcoming crisis in geriatric mental health," Jeste and his colleagues assert. First, improved physical health among mentally ill young adults allows many more to reach old age than would have just a few decades ago. Second, a rapidly expanding population of elderly citizens will provide a growing number of candidates for late-life mental ailments. Third, researchers suspect that aging baby boomers will prove more susceptible to depression, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse than current elders do.

The consensus statement proposes that federal and private agencies jointly formulate a 15-to-25-year plan for conducting research on mental disorders among the elderly. It also recommends taking steps to improve the training of geriatric-mental-health workers.
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Title Annotation:15 million elderly with psychiatric disorders predicted for 2030
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 18, 1999
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