Mental health becomes more important as a person ages. That’s because one of the changes is that their mental faculties weaken as years pass. The result is that older adults are more vulnerable to a variety of mental health problems due to their aging minds. These mental health issues will need immediate attention to stem their negative effects.
In this article, we’ll learn how we can improve mental health care for older adults. At the same, we’ll know the ways how to integrate it into AARP primary care.
How to Improve Mental Health Care for Older Adults?
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To improve mental health in older adults, general practitioners should be aware of certain signs that might indicate mental health issues. These issues range from dementia to depression and will be a big problem if left unattended to. Here are the ways that AARP doctors and primary care doctors can improve the mental health of older adults:
- Early Intervention & Diagnosis
- Detecting mental health problems improves the chances of reducing or preventing the damages it can cause later on. A general practitioner must be vigilant for any cues or gestures that show something is going on with his senior patient. Ask the senior patients questions about how they’re doing or if anything is bothering them.
- Once the health provider has obtained all information they need from the patient, they can piece the data together and come up with a diagnosis of what’s going on with the patient. From there, they can guide the patient on ways to address their issues and optimize their well-being.
- Observing and Addressing Challenging Behavior
- The primary care provider should at frequent intervals and available opportunities, check on how their patient is doing. They should ask them if they’re experiencing anything challenging.
- Provide Long Term Support
- The best way for primary care providers is to provide long-term psychological support. Take note this form of support is best used once mental health care is fully integrated into the system – in this case, a collaborative model that we’ll cover later on.
- Long-term support is not just limited to follow-up checks on the patient. Doctors and care providers will also provide forms of emotional support such as motivation therapy and morale boost to uplift the patient’s mood.
Benefits of Integrating Mental Health Care into Primary Care
Before we head over to know how mental health care can be integrated into primary care, let’s know the benefits of doing so first.
- Better Care Access
- Primary care clinics act as everyone’s first point of contact in health care. By integrating mental care into the primary care system, everyone has access to the resources they need.
- Better Health Outcomes
- If mental health resources are available to more people; the health outcomes become better. More people will likely improve their mental health condition from primary care clinics.
How We Can Integrate Mental Health Care into Primary Care?
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Now that we’ve discussed the means to improve mental health and the benefits of integrating it into primary care, let’s get to know how we can integrate mental health care into primary care. Are there any specifics needed to get it included in what a primary care doctor can offer? Let’s find out!
- Analyze the Situation First
- Before mental health care is integrated into primary care, there’s a need for the health system to assess the current situation. See what influences the “why” in integrating mental health care into primary care.
- Nurture and Enhance Existing Teams and Structures
- Healthcare systems will require to allocate more resources to already existing structures. For instance, you could train the staff of health clinics with mental health training so they can assist in improving one’s mental health. If necessary, health centers can employ a mental health specialist to guide the staff with proper protocols.
- Another way to nurture the idea of mental health into existing centers and structures is through localized health seminars. Provide awareness to the community about mental health issues, especially for the older people of the community. By bringing awareness to the people, more will likely seek out the help of a primary care center.
- Check the Availability of Psychotropic Medications
- To properly integrate mental health care into primary care, the area must have access to certain medications. These psychotropic medicines must be accessible by both primary and secondary health care levels. It will require some policies and funding by the government before it goes into full effect though. Take note that some of these medications could have limited distribution due to policies related to psychotropic medicines.
- Proper Supervision and Support of Primary Care Staff
- There is a need for clinical supervision of primary care specialists who assist in improving the community’s mental health. They will need the assistance and guidance of a more experienced mental health specialist. The whole objective of supervision is to ensure that the primary care providers are competent in executing protocols for mental health care.
- Utilizing the Collaborative Care Model for Mental Health
- Proper integration of mental health care requires a systemized strategy for treating mental health issues in primary care. This uses the inclusion of care managers and psychiatric consultants into the channel of communication with the primary care provider.
- How does the collaborative care model work? In the usual structure of this system, a care manager acts as the program’s lynchpin. When the primary care provider forwards a patient referral into this care model, the care manager conducts initial evaluations. The idea of this initial evaluation is to see what’s going on with the patient referred to them.
- The care manager would then register the patient’s information into a database. At this point, the care manager will forward suggestions on how to alleviate the mental issues of the patient to the care provider. Treatments come in the form of psychotherapy and other interventions. Often, the patient will require follow-up checks from time to time.
- The care manager will also coordinate with the psychiatric consultant and the primary care provider. They’ll coordinate on plans how to improve the patient’s mental health in the longer run. The methods used to ensure mental health improvement can range from symptom monitoring to referring & coordinating with other recommended care providers.
- Using Records to Monitor Patients
- To fully integrate mental health care into primary care units, they need to use a recording system. Through records, doctors can check the current mental health status of the patient in their files. They can make updates on their file after sessions with them.
- Records are also handy in evaluating a patient’s health and also, future planning. Whatever the outcome of the session is used to improve the service further.
Bringing It All Together
Integrating mental health care into primary will take a lot of time and resources before it’s fully implemented. A healthcare system needs to analyze the situation of the locale before providing resources to them. On the bright side, once integration has reached fruition, many people including the elderly will benefit as their mental wellness can finally improve.
A community with a well-integrated mental health program is sure to enjoy living their lives to their fullest. It is crucial to make sure that mental health services are integrated into AARP primary care practises as the population ages. In order to avoid sickness, enhance quality of life, and contribute to the development of a healthier next generation, older individuals’ mental health difficulties must be addressed.
The inclusion of mental health services in AARP primary care has the potential to be advantageous for all parties involved and to offer complete senior care. It is time for clinicians and decision-makers to acknowledge the severity and significance of this problem and take action to make sure that people who need mental health treatment the most can obtain it.
- Why does Psychotropic Medicine Take a While to Become Accessible?
- Psychotropic medications aren’t your over-the-counter medicines. These medications take a while to become available as they fall under the umbrella of controlled substances. Primary care providers will need to go through many steps before becoming authorized to distribute them.
- Aside from going through many steps to become authorized, primary care models must comply with distribution protocols. They need to be strict in handing out these medications; only providing them to people that have a prescription of the medicine.
- What’s the Main Advantage of the Collaborative Care Model?
- The main advantage that the collaborative care model for mental health provides is the personalization of the person’s treatment. It’s mentioned that the people involved – the primary care provider, the care manager, and the psychiatric consult will exchange information about the patient.
- Together, the three of them will form a personalized mental health care plan for their patient based on the data that they’ve gathered from the previous sessions. The personalized mental health care plan should aid the patient in the longer run.
- What is the Main Aim of Seminars and Awareness Campaigns for Mental Health
- Mental health is sadly taken lightly compared to other health issues despite of how damaging it can get when left unwatched. Healthcare units and primary care providers will employ the use of seminars and awareness campaigns to show the value of mental wellness.
- What are the Most Commonly-detected Mental Health Issues in Primary Care?
- This research here shows that 70% of the patients that visit primary care providers either have anxiety, panic, depression, or stress.