Geriatric Mood Disorders
Martha Bruce, PhD, MPH - Weill Cornell Medical College
J. Craig Nelson, MD - University of California San Francisco
Depression is widespread in the elderly population. As many as 20% of seniors experience depression, and that percentage is significantly higher for those receiving care in hospitals and nursing homes. Depression in later life has serious consequences for individuals and for society as a whole. For patients and caregivers, depression can increase distress and strain relationships. There is evidence that depression in the elderly is strongly associated with poor cognitive function and decline. Depression can also worsen other disabilities and increase mortality rates due to both medical illness and suicide.
Formed in the Fall of 2010, the Task Group, which is comprised of 23 members from 13 NNDC sites, is currently tackling several topics specific to the geriatric patient population, including vascular risk factors, disability and function, and cognitive impairment. They have collaborated on a self-reported checklist for patients to assess their cardiovascular risks. They are examining the existing tools used to assess memory, language, information-processing speed, executive functioning and attention with the goal of recommending a Cognitive Assessment Battery for geriatric patients to augment the Common Assessment Package. In the near future, the Task hopes to develop a geriatric-specific pilot study to leverage the expertise and collaborative capacities of its members.