Blog | Friday, July 13, 2012

QD: News Every Day--Baby boomers face care shortage for mental health, substance abuse issues

Without a comprehensive overhaul, millions of baby boomers will likely face difficulties getting diagnoses and treatment for mental health conditions and substance abuse problems, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine.

The problem is in part because of a shortage health professionals, a need to redesign of Medicare and Medicaid payment rules to guarantee coverage of counseling, care management, and other types of services, and training clinicians and other health professionals to recognize signs and symptoms of geriatric mental health conditions, neglect, and substance misuse.

"The IOM committee conservatively estimated that between 5.6 million and 8 million older Americans, 14% to 20% of the nation's overall elderly population, have one or more mental health conditions or problems stemming from substance misuse or abuse," the agency said ina press release. "Depressive disorders and dementia-related behavioral and psychiatric symptoms are the most prevalent. Rates of accidental and intentional misuse of prescription medications are increasing. Although the rate of illicit drug use among older individuals is low, studies indicate that it will likely increase as the baby boomers age."

Baby boomers are a particularly demanding population, as reported in the July/August issue of ACP Internist. And, not only are people increasingly running into health problems, internists also have a role in protecting their patients from abuse, including economic fraud.

Tell us how this has affected your practice at ACP Internist in This Month's Poll. Results will appear on our blog in August.