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Mental Health and Older Adults

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  1. Mental Health and Older Adults Vineeth John, MD and Kathleen Pace Murphy, PhD, GNP The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth)

  2. Case of a New Onset Bipolar Disorder A 60-year-old, right-handed, previously successful and psychiatrically healthy businessman was brought by his family to a university hospital neuropsychiatry service for consultation regarding behavioral and personality changes. • When he was age 55 years, his customarily excellent financial and social judgment began to decline. Over the next four years, his attention to personal hygiene deteriorated, his business decisions became financially and ethically unsound, his range of social interests narrowed dramatically, and he developed an insatiable "sweet tooth."

  3. Case of a New Onset Bipolar Disorder A 60-year-old, right-handed, previously successful and psychiatrically healthy businessman was brought by his family to a university hospital neuropsychiatry service for consultation regarding behavioral and personality changes. • In the year preceding the consultation, his ability to maintain sleep diminished, he began spending money recklessly and impulsively and became unable to appreciate the feelings and concerns of others, and his speech and behavior took on a perseverative quality. Concurrently, he developed unprovoked, brief, frequent, and excessively intense episodes of tearfulness and laughing. These episodes lasted minutes at most, after which he would return to his usual euthymic emotional state.

  4. Case of a New Onset Bipolar Disorder A 60-year-old, right-handed, previously successful and psychiatrically healthy businessman was brought by his family to a university hospital neuropsychiatry service for consultation regarding behavioral and personality changes. • One month before the neuropsychiatric consultation, he had received a diagnosis of late-onset bipolar disorder and had begun treatment with lithium carbonate. When his serum lithium level reached the therapeutic range, his cognitive, behavioral and motor function declined precipitously, prompting the consultation for a second diagnostic opinion. Is this patient’s presentation consistent with late onset bipolar disorder? What assessments are needed to clarify his diagnosis?

  5. Late Onset Psychosis • Psychosis of Alzheimer's disease • Late onset Schizophrenia • Late life delusional disorder • Psychotic disorders secondary to General Medical Conditions

  6. Psychosis in AD • Between 30 to 50 % of AD patients have psychotic symptoms • Psychotic symptoms are more prevalent as the disease progresses but are more common in the middle stages. • Visual hallucinations are more common than auditory hallucinations. • Increased risk of agitation • Increase in aggression • Poor self care • Disruptive behavior • Wandering • High rate of institutionalization

  7. Common Themes of Delusions in AD • Stealing • Stranger in the house • Spying • Impersonating the spouse or loved one Photo by MorgueFile user ‘JKD_DE”.

  8. Psychosis in Other Dementias • Dementia of Lewy bodies –VH and Delusions • Parkinson's Disease - Delusions and Hallucinations • Vascular Dementia Treatment of Psychotic Symptoms in Dementia • Low dose antipsychotics are the norm. • Careful balancing of the risks and benefits need to be performed.

  9. Delusions in Dementia Hallucinations in Dementia Agitation in Dementia Depressed Mood in Dementia

  10. Agitation in Dementia • Treat reversible causes of agitation-UTI, medications, alterations in renal functions, pain and discomfort • Behavioral Interventions • Antipsychotic medications • Anticonvulsants • Acetyl Cholinesterase Inhibitors/Memantine • SSRIs and antidepressant therapy

  11. Proposed Algorithm A proposed algorithm for decision making regarding the Use of antipsychotics in older adults with dementia-related psychosis and/or agitation Assess potential imminent danger No imminent danger Behavioral/psychosocial intervention de-escalates the imminent danger Behavior/psychosocial intervention fails to de-escalate imminent danger Look for reversible treatment etiology of the symptoms Offer oral antipsychotic (consider liquid or sol-tabs) but if necessary for safety, administer medications intramuscularly Potential reversible/treatment etiology found No clear reversible treatment etiology found Predictable antecedent environmental stimuli or other psychiatric illness (e.g., depression, insomnia) Medical illness or delirium Establish severity and frequency of symptoms, effect on patient/caregiver quality of life Explore past treatments, benefits, and adverse effects Discomfort (e.g., pain, constipation) Discuss what is known (and probably more important, what is unknown) about the possible risks and benefits of treatments (pharmacological and non-pharmacological) for psychosis and agitation/aggression in dementia, including atypical antipsychotics

  12. Suggested Starting/Target Doses for Atypical Antipsychotics in Patients with Dementia

  13. Late Onset Schizophrenia • Schizophrenia is characterized by it's onset in youth and subsequent deterioration of functionality. • Schizophrenia after 45 years of age was considered late onset by APA DSM III R, 1987. International consensus panel chose 40 years as the cut off point. • No such distinction is elaborated in DSM IV TR version. • Distinct Features • Lack of negative symptoms • Lack of thought disorder • More paranoid schizophrenia subtype • Presence of the features of neurodegeneration –CVAs. • More in women than in men • Patients who develop late onset schizophrenia were also noted to have sensory deficits - visual and hearing

  14. Differential Diagnosis of Late Onset Schizophrenia • Psychotic disorders secondary to general medical conditions • Psychotic symptoms which might be part of delirium • Early onset schizophrenia undetected • Mood disorders with psychotic features • Delusional disorders PDGMC vs. Schizophrenia

  15. Treatment of Late Onset Schizophrenia • Atypical antipsychotics • Psychosocial treatments-social skills, CBT • Family interventions for relapse prevention Aging and Early Onset Schizophrenia • Around 30% could show evidence for improvement and remission. • Cognitive deterioration is reasonably steady and do deteriorate significantly

  16. John Nash, Jr. — in his own words “But after my return to the dream-like delusional hypotheses in the later 60's I became a person of delusionally influenced thinking but of relatively moderate behavior and thus tended to avoid hospitalization and the direct attention of psychiatrists. Thus further time passed. Then gradually I began to intellectually reject some of the delusional influenced lines of thinking which had been characteristic of my orientation. This began, most recognizably, with the rejection of politically-oriented thinking as essentially a hopeless waste of intellectual effort.”

  17. Psychotic Disorders due to General Medical Conditions in the Elderly • Stroke • Parkinson's disease • Epilepsy • Herpes Encephalitis • Thyroid and adrenal disorders • Folate, B12 deficiencies • Systemic lupus erythematosus • Alcoholic hallucinosis Photo by MorgueFile user ‘bjwebbiz”.

  18. Medications Causing Psychotic Symptoms Mood Disorders Secondary to General Medical Conditions • Levadopa • Bromicriptine • Amantadine • Isoniazid • Corticosteroids • Amphetamines • Methylphenidate • Lidocaine • Cimetidine • Rate of depression in the medical population is 12 to 20%. • Many physical illnesses and medications can cause symptoms mimicking depression.

  19. Common Medical Conditions Causing Depression • Strokes • Parkinson's Disease • Hypothyroidism • Addison's Disease • Occult Carcinoma of the Pancreas • Collagen vascular disease • Multiple Sclerosis Most Common Medications Causing Depression • Antihypertensives - reserpine and methyl dopa • Steroids

  20. Secondary Mania • Stroke • Right hemisphere cerebral neoplasms • Multiple sclerosis • Encephalitis • Syphilis • Head injury • Uremia • Corticosteroids • Thyroxin • Levodopa • Bromocriptine • Amphetamines • Cimetidine

  21. Dimensions of Grief and Bereavement • Emotional and cognitive experiences • Coping strategies • Continuing relationship with the deceased • Health, occupational and social functioning • Relationships • Social identity and Self esteem Complications of Grief and Bereavement • Morbidity • Increased somatic complaints • Worsening of pre existing illnesses • Increased use of medical services • Mortality • Widowers: highest risk in the first six months • Widows: period of risk delayed by 1 or 2 years.

  22. Psychiatric Complications of Grief • Substance use • Anxiety symptoms • PTSD • Depression Photo by Stockxchng user ‘GinntLynny”.

  23. Risk Factors Leading to Depression in the Grieving Process • Unnatural sudden unexpected death • Preexisting mood disorder • Early, intense depressive reaction after the loss • Poor physical health • Increased alcohol consumption • Family history of major depression • Poor social support system Geriatric Depression • Prevalence of geriatric depression is much higher in medical settings than in the community — 30%. • 50% of nursing home residents are at risk to develop depression. • Cognitive impairment is an expected complication in elderly patients who develop depression

  24. Under Diagnosis of Depression in the Elderly • Under reporting of symptoms • More focus on physical symptoms • More anhedonia than sadness • Subsyndromal depression not meeting criteria • Medical illness detection overshadow the diagnosis of depression Photo by Daniel Bayona.

  25. Reasons for Missed Diagnosis of Depression in Elderly Patients • Elderly patients under-report symptoms of depression (Lyness, 1995) • Elderly patients may not acknowledge being sad, down or depressed (Gallo, 1997) • Atypical presentations of depression frequently occur in old age (eg, somatic disorders, pseudodementia , behavioural disturbances) (Brodaty, 1993) • Elderly patients and clinicians misattribute symptoms to comorbid physical illnesses (Booth, 1998; Knauper, 1994) • The acceptance of depression as a “normal” psychological reaction to physical illness, life in a nursing home, widowhood or the aging process (Fawcett, 1972) • General practitioners may lack confidence in diagnosing depression in elderly patients, especially when the patient may not talk about feeling depressed, sad or irritable (Shah, 1997; Bowers, 1990) • Current diagnostic categories of depression do not adequately describe many depressed older people, particularly those with minor depressions that are most common in primary care (Beekman, 1999; Callahan 1996) • Education of general practitioners may focus too much on the types of depression seen in specialist practice (major depression), and not enough on minor depression

  26. Clinical Differentiation of Depression and Dementia

  27. Co-morbidity and Complications of Late Life Depression • Depression worsens outcomes and prognosis of medical illnesses • Depression lengthens hospital stay • Depression increases perception of ill health • Depression increases economic burden on the health care system • Depression worsens disability • Depression also results in increased suicide risk —White men over the age of 65, has the highest suicide rate

  28. Risk Factors for Suicide in the Elderly • Loneliness and poor social support • Presence of psychiatric disorder • Presence of fire arm • Impaired ability with IADLs • Medical co-morbidity Photo by MorgueFile user BBoomerInDenial.

  29. Treatment Options for Depression in the Elderly • SSRIs • TCAs • MAOIs • Bupropion • Mirtazapine • Augmenting agents • ECT • Psychotherapy Photo by Ronnie Bergeron.

  30. References • Devan and DP, Jacobs DM, Tang MX, et al. The course of psychopathologic features in mild to moderate Alzheimer disease. Archives of General Psychiatry. 1997;54:257–263 • Meeks, TW and Jeste, DV, Current Psychiatry,2008 • Meeks, TW and Jeste, DV, Current Psychiatry,2009 • Photographs  use for the cover are allowed by the MorgueFilefree photo agreement and the Royalty Free usage agreement at Stock.xchng.  They appear on the cover in this order: • Wallyir at  • Mokra at • Clarita at

  31. The Training Excellence in Aging Studies (TEXAS) program promotes geriatric training from medical school through the practicing physician level. This project is funded by the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation to the division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine within the department of Internal Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) • TEXAS would also like to recognize the following for contributions: • Houston Geriatric Education Center • Harris County Hospital District • Memorial Hermann Foundation • The TEXAS Advisory Board • Othello "Bud" and Newlyn Hare • UTHealth Medical School Office of the Dean • UTHealth Medical School Office of Educational Programs • UTHealth School of Nursing • UTHealth Consortium on Aging