The Aging Population: What Psychologists' Need to Know

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W1:A3 Essay
Lisa Majdecki South University Online

With the population of aging Americans (65 and older) predicted to double in the decade ahead, their needs for mental and behavior health services are not now adequately met. To meet the needs of the aging population, psychologists need to increase awareness of competencies for geropsychology practice and knowledge of dementia diagnosis, screening and services. Until recently most psychologists had little involvement in geriatric care and educating other psychologists regarding aging issues. Aging is an aspect of diversity that can be integrated into psychology education.

Psychologists have a lot to offer an aging society, yet the decade ahead presents challenges in health care, policy and financial issues to the aging population that cannot be ignored by psychologists. By 2020 the baby boomer generation will have reached 65 bringing with them a history of mental disorders and substance abuse from the histories of earlier cohorts. With this population growth, the number of aging adults facing Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia (diseases which prevention and cure remain elusive) will reach record numbers.

Finally and most importantly transforming the health care system to accommodate the needs of aging Americans and strategies for psychologists to influence practices on the coming decade that will change diagnostic criteria and the integration of geropsychology in primary settings.

Method Used to Conduct the Research

Besides Table 1 Found on Page 5. Most of the research was conducted through surveys and observed trends. There was one that did a comparative study 12 years apart. These are the results of the methods,

* The 2008 APA Survey of Psychological Health Service Providers, provides the most recent and representative data regarding psychologists’ work with older adults (Michalski, Mulvey, & Kohout, 2010a). The survey found 39% of respondents reporting that they provided at least some services to adults over the age of 65 years during the most typical week of practice (Michalski, Mulvey & Kohout 2010b) * An average of 8.5% of Psychologist health service provider time is being spent with adults over the age of 65. In the same survey, 265 individuals (4.2% of respondents) geropsychology as an area of current focus and work. These geropsychologists reported working across a range of settings; the most common primary employment settings were individual private practice (35.1%) nursing home (16.3%) group practice practice (11.7%) and VA medical center (7.9%). Of note, very few geropsychologists (1.3%) or psychology health service providers overall (o.7%) reported working in primary care offices or community health center settings. Across settings, however, geropsychology more frequently reported a primary focus of treatment on primary physical health or medical diagnosis (53%) compared with the sample overall (33%) * Data from the Substance Abuse and Mental health Administration’s 2005 and 2006 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, Office of Applied Studies, 2oo8) indicated that, for adults reporting * Serious psychological distress those 50-54 years old were more likely than those over the age of 65 to receive mental health treatment in any setting, and more likely to

perceive a need for mental health services. In a follow-up to the Epidemiologic
Catchment Area survey in Baltimore, original participants were interviewed again
in 1993 and 2004 (Bogner et al., 2009). Adults who were 60 years of age in 2004
continued to underutilize specialty mental health services compared with adults
40-59 years old, a result similar to the age group trends found in the 1980s and in
1993. Although the cohort of adults now turning 65 years old may be more likely
to perceive...
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