Chapter 3

Chapter 3 Excerpt – State of Mind / Mental Abilities

Based on your initial considerations, you should have a good idea of the senior’s overall health situation. Hopefully, you have determined any factors that need to be addressed and you have started locating the appropriate medical providers and resources.

Please make sure that you specifically ask whether the medical providers have consistent experience with seniors and their health concerns. Seniors may metabolize medications differently from younger adults, they may need specialized physical therapy (due to brittle bones, heart, cognitive abilities, etc.), and they may have unique dietary needs (due to things like diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc.).

You also want to make sure that there is ONE medical provider who is overseeing and coordinating ALL the necessary medical services. Overmedication and drug interactions are a common problem with seniors. To learn more, go to the FDA website: There are several sites which allow you to check interactions between drugs:,,4109,,00.html

If you are still having problems, check with local medical professionals for additional recommendations. Don’t forget to check with hospitals (Social Services or Patient Advocate Departments), senior care facilities, and community sources. You can also check out these additional websites:!OpenPage and the Mayo Clinic at

Psychologist / Psychiatrist
What is the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist? Does your senior need a medical doctor specializing in mental health? A psychologist will primarily help patients thru counseling and psychotherapy. A psychiatrist can perform those same services, but can also prescribe medications. In the case of clinical depression, for example, a psychiatrist may be the best provider since a psychiatrist can prescribe appropriate medications. Check out this site for more info on depression:

If you suspect other illnesses, such as schizophrenia or suicidal thoughts, a psychiatrist may still be the best choice. Almost one fifth of all suicides are people over 65 even though they account for only 13% of the population (per 2000 U.S. Census). If the person is handling other psychological problems, a psychologist that uses talk therapy may be as effective. Good mental health is a crucial factor to long life so make sure that you do your homework for the best “fit.