Many in Assisted Living Have Mental Health Problems

Two-thirds of those in study had dementia, depression

THURSDAY, Oct. 7, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Rates of mental health problems among elderly assisted living residents are higher than expected, says an Indiana University study in the October issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Two-thirds of the 2,100 assisted living residents in the study showed signs of mental health problems. Half of them had dementia and a quarter of them showed signs of depression. More than half took psychotropic medications such as antipsychotics, sedatives or antidepressants.

The residents in the study lived in 193 assisted living facilities in four states.

"These findings, that the rate of mental health problems in the assisted living population is as high as the rate of mental health problems in nursing home patients -- and much higher than the 6 or 7 percent of individuals with depression or dementia found in the age 65 and older population seen by primary-care physicians -- is rather surprising," study co-author Dr. Malaz Boustani, an assistant professor of medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine, said in a prepared statement.

"Now that we know that a significant proportion of assisted living residents have mental health problems, we need to work with assisted living residents, administrators, health-care providers, policy makers and advocates to ensure that these facilities can accommodate their residents without over-medicating. And we don't want to repeat the overregulation errors we have made with nursing home care," Boustani said.

More information

The Family Caregiver Alliance has more about assisted living.

SOURCE: Indiana University, news release, October 2004
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