Mental disorders in older people are often detected too late or not. Changes in behavior are often attributed to age and often not taken seriously enough.

Background for Geriatric Psychiatry

Due to the increasing life expectancy in Austria also increases the risk of developing with age from a mental disorder. Such disturbances can occur in various forms, such as a dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease, depressive disorders, confusional state as a result of organic disease or psychosocial stress, and also in the form of alcohol and drug dependency. Gerontopsychiatry win here more and more important.


Definition of geriatric psychiatry

The geriatric psychiatry as a specialized field of psychiatry is concerned with the psychological and psychiatric problems in people over 60 years. In addition to the medical plane in the field of geriatric psychiatry, the social and organizational factors are very important.Large psychiatric institutions usually have separate departments for geriatric psychiatry. As a vividly developing field of psychiatry, it takes due to demographic change in importance. Similarly, the economic significance of mental illness increases with age. Ethical disagreements are both politics and society with new challenges.

Responsibilities of Geriatric Psychiatry

The area of ​​geriatric psychiatry extends to mental disorders, which occur mainly in later life. Main syndromes include dementia, delirium, depression and schizophrenia.

Common diseases in old age

Depression and various types of dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease, are among the most common mental disorders in old age. Often occur even confusion, which may be caused by organic disorders, alcohol and drug dependence or psychological stress reactions.Cure or at least a slowing of a negative disease course are possible with timely diagnosis because of new, modern treatment methods. The main goal is to improve the quality of life.

Counseling for family members

The field of geriatric psychiatry also includes advising the relatives. They are exposed to the occurrence of mental disorders and heavy loads often need special care and assistance.

Importance of geriatric psychiatry

Today’s society is characterized by a steadily increasing proportion of elderly people. Both the decline in fertility since the 60s and the ever expectant better medical care to an advanced age require such development. To the development of the old psychiatric center of gravity of psychiatry, geriatric psychiatry, in addition to the mentioned demographic trends and the differentiation of the methods, facilities and knowledge of mental illness in old age have contributed.

As a department of psychiatry, geriatric psychiatry can be seen as part of the field of geriatrics, which is the age medicine. It ensures the mental health of institutionalized elderly by identifying and treating mental disorders, both in-patient, as well as in stationary applications.