WASHINGTON June 13, 2012 - Representative Jesse Jackson Jr. is being treated for a mood disorder. There are depressive, bipolar, and substance induced mood disorders, making Jackson’s revelation so vague it seems more harmful than helpful. It leaves too much room for speculation although, we love to speculate.
Whatever the specific problem, Rep. Jackson is no doubt getting excellent care at an excellent treatment facility manned by an excellent staff. That is what people do when ill, they look for the best treatment available that they can afford, or are insured for.
Something else in the news this month is a report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM). It leaves little wiggle room for speculation. The report concerns seniors, and those who will be seniors in the next couple decades (and beyond).
Not For Sissies
The population of the elderly in the U.S., which was 40 million in 2010, will reach over 70 million by 2030. Many of these people will likely find it difficult to receive treatment for mental health or substance abuse issues. There are not enough services currently in place to handle this increase of elders, and nothing is being done to prepare for it.
(You have to wonder, since many states have slashed mental health spending, if anything will be done.)
“There is a conspicuous lack of national attention to ensuring that there is a large enough health care work force trained to care for older adults with mental health and substance use conditions,” said committee chair Dan G. Blazer, J.P. Gibbons Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and vice chair for faculty development, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, N.C.
Blazer goes on to say, “These conditions are relatively common, they can be costly, and they can have profound negative impacts on people’s health and well-being. This report is a wake-up call that we need to prepare now or our older population and their extended families will suffer the consequences.”
People aged 65 and over are at risk for depression, memory problems, and reduced cognitive functioning. Most of us think this is normal for an aging person, but is it?
Although our body eventually has too many loose screws to function, depression and decaying thought process frequently result from isolation, existential issues such as no longer feeling purposeful, a poor self-image, and lack of mental and social stimulation.
Our culture has little compassion for those who have reached the “lizard skin” phase of life. That’s why you can Google “growing old is not for sissies” and find plenty of sites with helpful senior tips, but as the elderly Mark Twain wrote, “It is sad to go to pieces like this but we all have to do it.”
Most of us want to take care of ourselves and be useful as long as possible, but it would reassuring to know help is available when needed.
The IOM report recommends the following. “Congress should appropriate the funds to carry out the provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that support loan forgiveness and scholarships for individuals who work with or are preparing to work with older adults with mental health conditions or substance use problems.”
Since humans have a talent for addressing problems after they have reached a crisis point, and because there is typically much contention during the crisis, it is likely the IOM’s expectations are low; however, that is speculation, and likely all this report will stir.
Looking for more information about depression in the elderly? You will find helpful articles at Healthline.com.
“Age does not diminish the extreme disappointment of having a scoop of ice cream fall from the cone.” ~ Jim Fiebig
Baby Boomers Likely to Face Inadequate Care for Mental Health, Substance Abuse; IOM Report Recommends Ways to Boost Work Force, Fund Services and Training (7/10/12), Institute of Medicine (www.iom.edu).
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