Experts Predict Increase in Mental Health Needs for Homeless Elderly
On Monday, a group of mental health experts warned that the state soon could see a significant increase in behavioral health care needs among elderly homeless individuals, the Sacramento Bee reports.
Details of Event
A group of 20 experts gathered in Sacramento for a round-table discussion of the issue. The event was part of a series sponsored by Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) and U.S. Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.).
Participants in the discussion included:
- Mental health advocates;
- Representatives from health plans; and
- Representatives from hospital systems.
Details of Discussion
According to the experts, many elderly homeless individuals have long-standing substance use disorders. They said the consequences of substance misuse could mirror the symptoms of schizophrenia.
Some elderly homeless individuals also might be entering the early stages of Alzheimer's disease and require special intervention, the experts said.
Many elderly homeless individuals with behavioral health problems are taken to hospital emergency departments, which generally are not able to provide adequate mental health treatment, according to the Bee.
The experts said that some hospitals and health care organizations are using specialized personnel known as navigators toÂ assist patients during mental health episodes.They said that a possible strategy for improving treatment opportunities for elderly homeless individuals with mental health problems isÂ for health care providers toÂ staff navigators 24 hoursÂ a day, seven days per week (Craft, Sacramento Bee, 4/30). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.