Psychiatry of old age

The psychiatry of old age is of growing importance, because the proportion of elderly people in the UK population is increasing. 'Old age' services, as opposed to 'general adult' services, may take patients over the age of 65 or 70, depending on local arrangements. In some districts, patients with long-term mental health problems from adult life are kept on by general psychiatry, with elderly psychiatry taking cases which present after 65 or other agreed cutoff.

Psychiatric illness becomes more common with advancing age, because elderly people have a high prevalence of cerebral and systemic diseases that can cause organic brain syndromes, and because they are often subject to emotional stresses and loss. These include the deaths of spouse, siblings, and friends; loss of occupation, company, and income after retirement; deterioration in bodily functions; the prospect of further ageing and death; and, sometimes, both within private households and institutions, mistreatment by those with the responsibility for care ('elder abuse').

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