Public Release: 

Study shows inadequate psychiatric care in assisted living facilities

Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Research conducted among elderly persons residing in assisted living (AL) facilities in Maryland reveal high prevalence of dementia and other psychiatric disorders, but a lack of recognition and treatment by caregivers.

According to the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, dementia is a mental disorder affecting an individual's ability to think, speak, reason, remember and move. Many types of this disorder exist, with the most common cause being Alzheimer's Disease. Of the 198 randomly selected AL residents surveyed in the study, 134 (67.7%) were diagnosed with dementia. While family or caregivers recognized 78 - 80% of the cases, only about half had been adequately evaluated and treated. The study also found that 26.3% of residents were suffering from other psychiatric disorders, most commonly depression and anxiety, with similarly low rates of treatment.

"Dementia and psychiatric disorders are common in assisted living [facilities] and have suboptimal rates of recognition and treatment," states Dr. Adam Rosenblatt, lead investigator of this Maryland Assisted Living Study. "This may contribute to morbidity and interfere with the ability of residents to age in place."

The article notes that this situation contrasts with the common depiction of AL as "a residential setting for cognitively normal elderly people with minor functional limitations." Due to the prevalence of residents presenting with dementia and other psychiatric disorders in the facilities visited, and the subsequent rates of recognition and treatment, data suggests that "AL staff may not be well prepared to manage mental and behavioral disorders, resulting in greater expenditure of resources and less favorable outcomes." Essentially, this inadequate care can lead to poor quality of life.

Rosenblatt relates the study to the increasing frequency of AL as a way of life for the elderly. As of 1999, about 600,000 senior citizens in the United States were living in AL facilities (1) and that number is expected to increase to 1.9 million by the year 2030. (2,3)

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This study is published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Media wishing to receive a PDF of this article please contact medicalnews@bos.blackwellpublishing.net.

About the Author
Adam Rosenblatt, M.D. is Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Division of Neurobiology and Division of Geriatric and Neuropsychiatry. He attended Yale University and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine where he also received his residency training before joining the faculty. Dr. Rosenblatt is the author of more than 40 articles, books and chapters on Huntington's disease, dementia and various topics in neuropsychiatry. He can be reached for questions and interviews at arosenba@jhmi.edu or 410-955-2398.

About the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society
The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society publishes articles that are relevant in the broadest terms to the clinical care of older persons. Such articles may span a variety of disciplines and fields and may be of immediate, intermediate, or long-term potential benefit to clinical practice.

About Blackwell Publishing
Blackwell Publishing is the world's leading society publisher. The company remains independent with over 900 staff members in offices in the US, UK, Australia, China, Denmark, Germany, and Japan. Blackwell publishes over 700 journals in partnership with more than 550 academic and professional societies.

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