This medical handbook covers a wide variety of topics related to diagnosing and caring for elderly people with psychiatric issues.
Thanks to advances in modern medicine, people are living longer than ever. Geriatric patients, however, face a number of unique challenges—mood disorders, dementia, the inability to live independently and more—and their families, caregivers and even social service providers might not know all the warning signs. How does one identify neglect? Is an elderly person’s sudden forgetfulness depression or dementia? What kinds of psychotherapies are most helpful for older people? The goal of Sydney-based Ayse and David Burke’s (a psychologist and physician, respectively) debut work is to help health professionals assess these issues in their patients or clients—or, in the authors’ words, “to provide a guide to the assessment and management of the common mental health problems in older people through the integrated, multidisciplinary perspectives of medicine, nursing, psychology, social work, and occupational therapy.” The book’s preface and first section focus on the importance of working together as a multidisciplinary team, but the dense prose style is difficult to parse, rendering the sections challenging for readers who aren’t medical professionals. Fortunately, the four subsequent sections are broken down into smaller, easy-to-comprehend parts that include several charts and graphs that explain the various mental illnesses an elderly patient might experience and compare the different diagnostic tools available. A few of the references could be outdated; the “Neuroimaging Findings in Dementia” section, for example, begins with structural neuroimaging guidelines that date back to 2001. Overall, much of the text seems geared toward medical and social service professionals (particularly those in Australia, who can access the various organizations listed), not the geriatric patients themselves or their concerned families. Nonetheless, a handful of the book’s subsections—especially those on mental capacity and guardianship, independent living and caregiver stress—could prove helpful to a caregiver.
An enlightening quick-reference handbook for health and social service professionals working with elderly patients, but some sections might be too technical for the average reader.