Conference Abstracts

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Are you sure I have dementia?

McDonald, T. A., 2010

8th Biennial Dementia conference, Sydney

ABSTRACT

Background: In this paper the growing demand for mental health services in aged care contexts is examined along with a discussion of options for introducing effective mental health services in a residential aged care setting.

Objective: The aim of the presentation is to share the ideas and strategies developed for mental health support services within an aged care setting.

Methods: Mental illness resulting in behavioural problems is easily categorized as dementia when in fact the cause could be psychiatric symptoms such as depression, delusions, hallucinations, anxiety or agitation among many others. Similar symptoms can also arise from medications administered in different combinations as well as environmental triggers for behaviour.

Standard approaches for assessing the extent of psychiatric illness within a residential aged care village go some way toward identifying the need for specialist care and treatment. Usually a clinical psychologist is contacted to conduct assessments and recommend treatments however referrals are often limited due to lack of staff awareness of differences between psychiatric and dementia symptoms. Assessment and staff training sessions can identify the prevalence of psychiatric issues and the skills needed to provide appropriate care and treatment.

Results: Most mental health problems are amenable to help from generalist staff, with backup support from mental health specialists. Reversal of common views held generally about older people’s mental health status requires staff to be aware of these issues and to assist residents to access help from a mental health specialist as necessary. These general themes also need to be taken into account when designing mental health interventions for aged care communities.

Conclusions: An example of an applied research mental health project set up in a residential aged care home in Sydney will be used to demonstrate issues and outcomes for residents and the home. The session will conclude with an opportunity for questions about the strategy and the presentation.

CITATION McDonald T. Are you SURE I have dementia? Hammond Care’s 8th Biennial International Conference on Dementia “Do we need a different point of view?”. 15-16 June 2010. Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, Sydney.

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