It is anticipated that the number of people older than 65 years with psychiatric disorders in the United States will increase from about 4 million in 1970 to15 million in 2030. The current health care system serves mentally ill older adults poorly and is unprepared to meet the upcoming crisis in geriatric mental health. We recommend the formulation of a 15- to 25-year plan for research on mental disorders in elderly persons. It should include studies of prevention, translation of findings from bench to bedside, large-scale intervention trials with meaningful outcome measures, and health services research. Innovative strategies are needed to formulate new conceptualizations of psychiatric disorders, especially those given scant attention in the past. New methods of clinical and research training involving specialists, primary care clinicians, and the lay public are warranted.
Estimated prevalence of major psychiatric disorders in younger (aged 30-44 years) vs older (aged 65 years or older) adults from 1970 to 2030. See the text for explanations of the estimates used.
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