“As we age, cognitive impairment becomes more of an issue, as do grieving, loss of function and loss of previously valued roles in society,” says MGH psychiatrist Anthony Weiner, MD. “There is a wide range of psychiatric disorders and problems that can affect older adults.”
Many adults age 65 and older have symptoms and reasons for referral to a psychiatrist, he adds, but do not require impatient care. To address the needs of this population, Weiner has been named the first director of Outpatient Geriatric Psychiatry at MGH. In this new role, over the next several years he will launch the MGH Older Adult Outpatient Psychiatry Program, expected to begin accepting patients in the coming months.
Through the new program, Weiner envisions transitioning from solo practitioners to a multidisciplinary, team-based model of care. This team would include a psychiatrist, nurse clinical specialist, doctorate-level psychologist, social worker and case manager.
“This kind of coordinated care would create a version of a medical home to meet the complex care needs of our older adult patients,” says Weiner. “Instead of one appointment at a time, we can foresee a patient having a series of appointments in one location leading to a comprehensive evaluation provided by our team.”
Weiner also hopes to emphasize caregiver support, increase public and professional education about optimal psychiatric care for older adults and, with financial support, develop and expand training opportunities and geriatric psychiatry fellowships.
Says Jerrold Rosenbaum, MD, chief of the Department of Psychiatry, “We recruited Tony for his extensive experience providing medical-psychiatric care to older adult patients in a variety of settings. He is familiar with leading multidisciplinary teams and has a history collaborating with community-based organizations. This program will help us meet the increasing demand for psychiatric services for older adult patients and their families.”
Read more articles from the 11/02/12 Hotline issue.