Geriatric Psychiatry

Geriatric Psychiatry

Geriatric Psychiatry

When Frisbie Memorial Hospital opened its Geriatric Psychiatry unit in 1984, it was the first and only hospital-based program at the time dedicated to care for patients age 65 years and older with mental and behavioral health issues in New England. Since then, the hospital has expanded its geriatric psychiatry inpatient program, doubling in size the number of inpatient beds. The program also provides services to patients living in local nursing homes including psychiatric evaluations, consultations, and medication management.

Evaluating patients in the outpatient setting

The evaluation process involves a meeting between the geriatric psychiatrists/nurse practitioners and the patient to discuss symptoms, review medical/psychosocial history, and conduct basic cognitive testing.

Diagnosing patients

The information gathered from the evaluation will help to establish a diagnosis and guide the treatment plan. Depending on the diagnosis a variety of interventions/treatments may be prescribed.

Treating patients

Treatment plans will always be unique to the patient and are designed to improve the quality of life to the extent possible. Treatments may include the prescribing of medication, psychotherapy, and/or electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). If deemed appropriate, providers may refer patients to additional psychosocial services.

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When to seek medical care for an aging parent or spouse:

  • Having difficulty finding the words
  • Forgetting names, appointments, or not remembering having done something
  • Losing things
  • Difficulty performing familiar tasks, such as driving, cooking a meal, household chores, or managing personal finances
  • Personality changes (i.e. sociable person becomes withdrawn)
  • Uncharacteristic behavior
  • Mood swings, often with brief periods of anger or rage
  • Poor judgment
  • Behavior disorders (paranoid delusions, aggressiveness, agitation, or inappropriate sexual behavior)
  • Decline in level of functioning, but able to follow established routines at home
  • Confusion, disorientation in unfamiliar surroundings — may wander in an effort to return to familiar surroundings
  • Unable to carry out activities of daily living without assistance (bathing, dressing, grooming, feeding, toileting)
  • Disrupted sleep (often napping in the daytime or awake in the middle of the night)
  • Unable to learn new information
  • Increased disorientation and confusion, even in familiar surroundings