Last Friday, a new psychiatric program was opened at the Virginia Baptist Hospital, Lynchburg, for seniors, offering inpatient care for 12 patients over 60-years-old undergoing a crisis. This is part of a general urge from healthcare workers to improve the care seniors with mental illnesses receive. It will enable those with issues like dementia and Alzheimer’s to receive specialist care, in a separate unit from the hospital’s other patients.
According to one of the geriatric psychiatrists working on the new project, Dr. Peter Betz, this unit will be providing a way more “homogenous approach,” which is extremely necessary today, given the increase in the geriatric population of Central Virginia by 23 percent over the last decade with an even faster increase with the rate of Alzheimer’s.
<h2>Need for More Psychiatrists</h2>
As well as the fact that the elderly population – and those requiring psychiatric care – is increasing at such great speed, there are only 50 new geriatric psychiatrists trained each year. Throughout America, there are only 12 to 15 programs that regularly produce Board Certified Geriatric Psychiatrists. But given how draining mental illness can be on the entire family (both mentally and financially), more help is needed for these patients (which will ultimately indirectly assist the family too).
According to Indiana University School of Medicine’s clinical associate professor of psychiatry and spokesman for the American Psychiatric Association, Dr. John Wernert, what is unique about this new program is the high level of psychiatric care along with safety and family involvement it has. He added that it is way better for patients experiencing any level of confusion to be kept in a secure environment, not with those patients with different needs.
What is ultimately also very good about the program – for society at large – is that it will provide mental health integration into society in a way in which both the patient and the healthy individual are not uncomfortable.