Supporting the World’s Aging Population

The International Psychogeriatric Association shares opportunities to improve worldwide geriatric care.

CONFERENCE REPORTER

According to Maria I. Lapid, MD, there are shockingly only 4 geriatric psychiatrists in all of the Philippines, a country with a population of over 110 million. Lapid is a professor of psychiatry at the Mayo Clinic Department of Psychiatry and Psychology.

In the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry 2021 Annual Meeting presentation, “International Psychogeriatric Association (IPA): Topics in Aging and Mental Health,” Lapid and her colleagues shared a number of ways geriatric mental health care is lacking and how it can—and should—be improved.

“One of the goals of the IPA is to provide for geriatric communities everywhere,” Lapid said. “The pandemic has provided a wonderful opportunity to develop and improve online courses for physicians providing geriatric care.”

She stressed the need for education, teaching communities how to care for mental health of the geriatric population. Lapid and other IPA members have worked to create educational resources to ensure there is a sustainable and appropriately trained health workforce to care for aging populations.

Another presenter, William E. Reichman, MD, discussed the importance of adequate long-term care facilities, and the cruciality of person-centric care.

“It should be less an institution than a home with health care support,” said Reichman, president and CEO of Baycrest, professor at the University of Toronto, and president of the IPA.

Reichman shared a new vision for long-term care, where there is a range of facility choices.

One of these potential choices is the Dutch Apartment for Life (AFL), or age-proof dwelling. In such a facility, inhabitants have autonomy to make choices, share meals and activities in a broad community, utilize onsite daycare, and take advantage of home care service delivery. This might be a viable option for patients with early- to mid-level dementia, according to Reichman.

The typical North American facilities, the Continuing Care Retirement Communities, are largely made for high income level patients. They provide a closed country club type of community and have stratified levels of care. AFLs, by contrast, provide supportive housing for all income levels, are open to the surrounding community, and maintain an “aging in place” style. Reichman believes this style will be the preferred aging facility for baby boomers.

Technology will also be crucial to aging in place. Smart home safety devices, such as motion-detection lighting, smart mattresses, floor sensors, movement tracking devices, smart appliances, and the like, will assist patients who wish to maintain independence.

To learn more about caring for geriatric patients, the IPA provides 12 hour-long seminars on supporting the world’s aging population, which can be accessed here