Mental Health Issues in Late Life
For individuals in the U.S. & U.S. territories
The population of people in the United States over the age of 65 is one of the most rapidly growing groups in America. Therefore, it is essential for therapists who work closely with older adults to be able to define and administer an effective course of therapeutic treatment.
For older adults with mental health issues, problem-solving skills can weaken as a result of cognitive decline in late life. Problem-solving therapy is especially suited for work with older adults because it encourages the client to define his or her problems concretely in terms of the stimuli, responses, and consequences.
In this video, Dr. Patricia Areán demonstrates the effective use of problem-solving therapy with a 62 year old retired woman who is the sole caregiver of her grandchild, as well as both of her parents. The client has been struggling with depression, severe mood swings, and sleeplessness for about five years.
Dr. Patricia A. Areán's approach to psychotherapy for older adults is based on problem-solving theory and cognitive neuroscience of depression in late life.
Problem-solving treatment is a brief behavioral intervention that has been found to be effective in the treatment of depression, anxiety and general medical distress in a variety of adults, including older adults and adults with acute and chronic illnesses. Problem-solving treatment can be delivered in a variety of settings, including primary care, home-based care, telephone and internet-based care.
Problem-solving treatment involves a combination of psychoeducation, affect regulation, and basic cognitive training. Problem-solving treatment is also a client-centered intervention; the client selects the problems to work on and creates an action plan to address the problem.
The therapist's stance is to help clients learn and practice the problem-solving process and to consult with clients about their action plans. Over a brief period of time, clients learn how to critically analyze their problems, manage the impact their emotions have on solving problems, and systematically develop creative and effective methods for meeting their goals.
The process is very collaborative, and while the therapist takes an active role in developing the final action plans, the client is the one who owns the process.
Dr. Patricia A. Areán is a professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the the University of California, San Francisco, and is a licensed clinical psychologist.
Dr. Areán is an international expert on effectiveness of behavioral interventions for mood disorders, in particular for adapting these interventions for a variety of health and mental health settings (primary care medicine, assisted living settings, social service settings, mental health settings), and more recently in mobile health applications.
Since 1994, Dr. Areán has published more than100 peer reviewed articles on these topics and has been funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institute on Aging, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, and the Hartford Foundation. She is currently funded by the National Institute of Mental Health to study the effectiveness of "brain games" on mood and the effectiveness of mobile health apps on mood.
Her work has won national recognition, resulting in an early career award from APA, a mid-career award from the National Institutes of Health for her work on disseminating evidence-based practices and the Award for Achievements in Diversity in Mental Health from the American Association of Geriatric Psychiatry.
Dr. Areán currently leads an interdisciplinary research team consisting of researchers from diverse backgrounds, including social work, nursing, psychiatry, family and general medicine, medical sociology and clinical psychology.
- Albert, S.M., & Logsdon, R.G. (Eds.) Assessing Quality Of Life in Alzheimer's Disease. (2000). NY: Springer Publishing Co.
- Hayes, S.C. (1993). Analytic goals and the varieties of scientific contextualism. In S.C. Hayes, L.J. Hayes, H.W. Reese, & T.R. Sarbin (Eds.), Varieties Of Scientific Contextualism (pp. 11–27). Reno, NV: Context Press.
- Kuhn, D., & Verity, J. (2008). The Art Of Dementia Care. Clifton Park, NY: DELMAR CENGAGE Learning.
- Lawton, M.P. (1991). A multidimensional view of quality of life in frail elders. In J.E. Birren, J.E. Lubben, J.C. Rowe, & D. E. Deutchman (Eds), The Concept And Measurement Of Quality Of Life In The Frail Elderly (pp. 3–27). Academic Press, Inc.
- Logsdon, R.G., McCurry, S.M., & Teri, L. (2008). Assessment and treatment of dementia related affective disturbances. In: Laidlaw, K., & Knight, R. (Eds.). The Handbook Of Emotional Disorders In Late Life: Assessment And Treatment, pp. 345–362. New York: Oxford University Press.
- Mast, B.T. (2011). Whole Person Dementia Assessment. Baltimore, MD: Health Professions Press.
- Snyder, L. (2010). Living Your Best With Early-Stage Alzheimer's. North Branch, MN: Sunrise River Press.
- Adapting Psychotherapy for Working With Older Adults
Bob G. Knight
- Assisted Living Decisions in Psychotherapy
- Cognitive–Behavioral Therapy for Late-Life Depression
- Depression With Older Adults
Peter A. Lichtenberg
- Treating Alzheimer's Disease Through Caregiver Family Therapy
Sara Honn Qualls
- Behavioral Mechanisms and Psychopathology: Advancing the Explanation of Its Nature, Cause, and Treatment
- Edited by Kurt Salzinger and Mark R. Serper
- Caregiver Family Therapy: Empowering Families to Meet the Challenges of Aging
Sara Honn Qualls and Ashley A. Williams
- Clinical Neuropsychology: A Pocket Handbook for Assessment, Third Edition
Edited by Michael W. Parsons and Thomas A. Hammeke
- Treating Dementia in Context: A Step By Step Guide to Working With Individuals and Families
Susan M. McCurry and Claudia Drossel