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Lutheran Opens Inpatient Psychiatry Unit for Elderly

January 04, 2013
WHEAT RIDGE, CO (Jan. 4, 2013) – The aging process can be challenging, and when it involves mental aspects as well as physical, it can sometimes be scary or overwhelming. Yet, while the aging population in this country continues to grow, behavioral health services for all ages, but especially for those over age 65, continues to shrink. Additionally, depression, dementia – in all its forms – and other behavioral health issues often go undiagnosed, under treated or ignored. Exempla Lutheran Medical Center will help fill the gap in senior behavioral health services in the Denver metro area with the opening of a new 20-bed inpatient Senior Behavioral Health unit. The service will treat the acute mental health disorders that sometimes occur in the elderly and that are often the result of or exacerbated by a medical condition. “The types of mental illness we see in older patients and that often require an inpatient stay include serious depression, psychosis and significant behavioral changes due to early or moderate stages of dementia,” said Glenn Most, PsyD, clinical director for Exempla West Pines behavioral health services, who will oversee the Senior Behavioral Health unit within Lutheran’s main hospital building. Life changes, such as living situations, medication toxicity, nutritional imbalances, changes in functional abilities and even infection can bring on serious mental challenges in the elderly, creating a need for more in-depth care. Changing needs and abilities to cope with various situations as we age can impact our mental and emotional health. Families often struggle with ensuring that their loved ones are getting the best care, whenever it is needed. “We are talking about people who are clearly unable to cope with these changes in their lives and need the type of acute care provided in this setting – something beyond respite care, which may not be helping them with these specific problems,” Most added. The service will include family support, as well as individual and group therapy, in a quiet, safe and compassionate environment. A strong focus on family involvement and discharge planning will help to ensure that when patients are ready to leave the hospital, they will be going to the most appropriate setting to continue their healing. Lutheran’s Senior Behavioral Health unit will complement and support the overall behavioral health services available in the community, as well as affirm the hospital’s commitment to meeting the specialized healthcare needs of the growing elderly population in the Denver metro area. In the past year, Exempla Lutheran has expanded its services for seniors through the opening of a Senior Emergency Room, followed by specialized nursing certification (Nurses Improving Care for Healthsytem Elders, or NICHE) around caring for the elderly, as well as a senior surgical service, providing a full continuum of healthcare for the elderly. For more information on the Exempla Lutheran Senior Behavioral Health service, please call 303-467-4080, or visit www.behavioralhealthforseniors.org