Unlawful Medicine LLC, USA
Title: Improving the care of gero-psychiatric patients in a complicated healthcare system
Dr. Edwards is a medical professional with 35 years’ experience in healthcare. She is a RN, medical investigator, legal nurse consultant and medical writer. She holds a MHA degree, a MD degree & she completed post-doctoral fellowship training in researching and analyzing medical data at CDC in Atlanta GA. Her passion lies in caring for the elderly and investigating what happens when medicine and law collide. For more than 6 years, Dr. Edwards has volunteered healthcare services to 3rd world countries; earning her the status of Dame of Grace, Dame of Honor and Dame of the Grand Cross.
As a person ages there is a regression in both physical and mental health. This deterioration results in one’s ability to deal with physiological/psychosocial demands. The world’s population is significantly growing. According to the United Nations World Population Prospects 2012, the average human lifespan is 70.7 years, 68.2 years for males and 73.2 years for females. According to WHO, In the US, the human life expectancy is approximately 78.2 years for men and 81 years for women; predicting that within the next 35 years the proportion of the elderly is estimated to increase approximately 10%. This is alarming because there is already a shortage of professionals who provide geriatric mental health services. In 2030, it is estimated that there will only be approximately 1650 geriatric psychiatrists in the US; one geriatric psychiatrist per 6000 geriatric psych patient. Of the aging population, 20% have one mental disorder that has negative effects on their health. Research has proven that elderly are likely to have greater disability, worse health outcomes and higher rates of hospitalization and emergency services than older patients with just a physical condition. Last but not least, the cost per person with mental illness and a medical illness is estimated to be 50% to 200% higher than patients with a medical illness only.
The geriatric population (65 years and older), is most likely to experience frequent, complex interactions with the healthcare system; a system so complex that it has trouble meeting their basic healthcare needs. Unfortunately, as the aging population increases so do mental disorders associated with aging (Alzheimer’s Dementia, Anxiety, Major Depressive Disorder, Suicide Ideation, etc.). Therefore, the growing geriatric population underlines the need for the development of concrete interventions to improve the care of geriatric psych patients in a complicated healthcare system.