The Road Less Traveled; The Inpatient Psychiatric Option

Making the decision to admit a loved one to a geriatric psychiatric unit can be extremely difficult and emotionally devastating for families.  Unfortunately, those who never choose to make the difficult decision to do so can never feel the ecstatic relief and happiness from improvements that can come as a result of making such a commitment for change.

Caregivers often recognize the need of such treatment, though avoid admitting to themselves just how bad things have gotten.  This avoidance often leads to worsening of problems that can be more easily resolved if the family follows their intuition as to what needs to occur.  By learning more about common treatment scenarios at psych units, one can be more prepared to make an informed decision if faced with needing such assistance.

When a geriatric patient begins to experience a substantial decrease in appetite and sleep, this can quickly become a life threatening situation.  For example, someone diagnosed with Major Depression showing a sudden decrease in appetite may benefit greatly from an evaluation of their antidepressant medications.  Often, specialists are able to prescribe medications that have strong appetite stimulating properties in addition to their psychotropic effects.

The person diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease doing fairly well for a few years may begin to become more agitated and uncooperative with care, sometimes refusing medications.  If the complete refusal of medications continues for long, numerous complications can occur.  Many times, adjustments can be made to memory enhancing meds and anti-psychotics that can be of great help.  Other times there is untreated depression and / or anxiety that can be addressed accordingly.

The aforementioned examples certainly do not encompass the hundreds of differing treatment scenarios that occur.  Though by considering the positive results that can be reached in a short amount of time within an intensive psychiatric program, one can conceptualize how such an approach may be able to help their loved one.  Acute intensive psychiatric treatment should be thought of as the option to take when ones primary physician and / or psychiatrist has been unable to stabilize the patient on an outpatient basis.  The only reason to seek treatment at an inpatient unit is to allow a specialist the opportunity to evaluate the patient for needed changes to their medications.  This is certainly not the only advantage of entering such a facility, though it is the primary goal that should never be lost sight of.  Great things happen in these facilities.  All caregivers of elderly persons with cognitive problems should become more knowledgeable on where their loved one could obtain such help should it ever be needed.