A FOUR-YEAR REVIEW OF GERIATRIC MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES.
IN A LAGOS BASED HOSPITAL, NIGERIA
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Background: There is a growing global concern about the public health implications of the increasing population
of the elderly. One main issue of concern is centered on how to address their mental health needs using homegrown
interventions and services. We expect that important lessons on geriatric mental health issues would be
brought to fore in this report. Methods: This is a four-year (2007-2011) retrospective report on the mental health services rendered to 938 clients
aged 60 years and above at a Lagos based mental health treatment facility in Nigeria. Designed questionnaires
were filled with socio-demographic and clinical data obtained from patients case notes based on the objectives
of the study. Results: The mean (standard deviation) age of elders was (±7.93) 69.6 years, and 65.5% were females. Majority
were married, self-employed and belonged to low socio-economic status (73.1%, 63.1% and 63.2%, respectively).
Close to two-thirds (62.4%) commute for at least one hour to get treatment. The commonest diagnosis was psychotic
disorders (34.8%), while 5.5% had Alzheimer’s dementia. Some 96.5% of the elders were solely on medications.
About a quarter had past history of mental illness and 48.5% reported co-morbid medical conditions, with
cardiovascular problems (53.0%) being the commonest physical comorbidity. The middle old along with very old
elders (aged≥70 years), and those with at least tertiary education, were more likely to present with dementia were more likely to present with index episode of mental illness and receive outpatient care Conclusion: The elders were managed for a wide range of treatable mental illnesses and other comorbidities and
commute for hours to access care. Pharmacotherapy was the preponderant sole treatment modality. There is need
for sustained development of expertise to enhance multimodal care and scaling up of comprehensive geriatric
mental health services. Further research is needed on how to appropriately link and/or integrate geriatric care
with services at all-tiers of health care delivery.
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