One of the less talked about topics of senior caregiving is geriatric psychiatry and Geri-psych admissions. People who are suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia may experience a voluntary or involuntary geriatric psychiatric admission at some point. A psychiatric admission is typically required when a patient in an assisted living or nursing home experiences some sort of problematic issue that the staff can’t manage. These issues include events such as fighting, yelling and outbursts, or self-harm like hitting themselves. The inherent stigmas and shame surrounding mental health problems sometimes keep families from discussing these types of problems freely.
A voluntary admission is when a patient determines that they need additional help and voluntarily agrees to seek treatment. An involuntary admission is more common for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients as they are often not capable of making that determination. Both traditional hospitals and behavioral healthcare facilities take care of geriatric psych admissions.
Psychiatric problems can arise in patients for a variety of reasons. One of the ways that dementia is expressed in some people is through aggression.This occurs even in people who were never aggressive or combative prior to a dementia diagnosis. It is important to remember that any behavior you observe as a caregiver is a result of the disease and not the fault of your loved one.You may hear and see things that are uncomfortable and out of the ordinary such as cursing, punching, or rage.
Undiagnosed infections can sometimes result in outbursts. For this reason,one of the first things a physician or psychiatrist will do is to rule out any infections such as a kidney infection. Other culprits may be a new medication,an incorrect dose, or a missed dose. A geriatric psychiatric admission allows the physicians the time, usually 72 hours up to two weeks, to determine the correct course of treatment and correct the problem.
When you are considering an assisted living, memory care or nursing care facility for senior care giving, you should ask what their procedures are for dealing with mental health problems that they can’t manage. Find out where they send patients, how long they are typically there, and whether patients are allowed back after. Some facilities have strict rules to protect the safety of other patients. Other locations may be better equipped to manage patients who experience problematic behaviors.
Geriatric psychiatric admissions can be traumatic for both patients and caregivers. The more information you have before issues come up will help you to navigate the process to a successful outcome. Learn what you can from available resources so that you can effectively advocate on behalf of your loved one when and if the time arises.