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The delivery of mental health services to the elderly is a vital societal challenge, especially in light of the enormous increase in the elderly population that is projected to occur during the first half of this century.
The elderly population is projected to grow rapidly between 2010 and 2030 as the 76 million "baby boomers" reach 65 years of age. By 2030, older adults will account for 20 percent of the nation's population, up from 13 percent today. Simply by virtue of the growth of the elderly population, the need for geriatric mental health services--and providers to treat them--will increase. In addition to being larger in numbers, the older-adult population will be much more diverse with regard to gender, minority status, income, living arrangements, and physical and mental health.
During the normal process of aging, older persons encounter stresses that may trigger both appropriate and distorted emotional responses. Two of the most stressful unplanned life events include declines in health and the loss of loved ones. …