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'Poor' elderly mental health care

13th August 2007

An independent panel has warned that services for older people with mental health problems are inadequate.

Old Woman 400

The UK Inquiry into Mental Health and Well-Being in Later Life found that while more than 3.5 million older people have mental health problems, under-funding and age discrimination prevented them from obtaining the support and treatment they need.

The inquiry found a quarter of people over 65 five and two in five people over 85 suffered depression or serious symptoms, while a fifth of people over the age of 80 suffered dementia.

But it said two-thirds of older people with depression never discussed it with their GPs and of the third that did, only half were diagnosed and treated.

Dr June Crown, who chaired the inquiry, said mental health problems in later life were often preventable and treatable.

She said: “Action to improve the lives of older people who experience mental health difficulties is long overdue. Current services for older people with mental health problems are inadequate in range, in quantity and in quality.

“Our report draws attention to groups of older people who are currently invisible in the UK, who have been denied the fair treatment that should be a hallmark of a civilised society.?

Health Minister Ivan Lewis acknowledged the report raised “fundamental questions for the NHS, care system, families and all communities? with the challenges of an ageing society.

He said he would be taking its findings seriously and working to seek continued improvements in the quality of mental health services for older people.

 

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