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Choosing Geriatric Psychiatric Inpatient Treatment

Dana Groom, CTRS & Ashley Dixon, MSW, CAPSW

Your family member, Margaret, has started showing symptoms of depression. She hasn’t been sleeping or eating well. She has had significant weight loss. She no longer enjoys family activities and often states, “I don’t feel like going anymore.” She has stopped doing activities she enjoys, such as playing bingo, crocheting, and spending time in her garden. When you talked to her on the phone today, she stated, “I feel like ending my life.” Who can help?

Southwest Health offers inpatient geriatric psychiatry care at Southwest Health Behavioral Services in Platteville, WI. Southwest Health Behavioral Services is an acute unit with ten beds that serve older adults aged 55 and up.

Here are top 8 reasons to choose geriatric psychiatry instead of an adult inpatient unit:

  1. You will be provided with a multidisciplinary team specializing in caring for older adults. Southwest Health team consists of a psychiatrist, physicians, nurses, a social worker, a recreational therapist, and mental health technicians, each trained in caring for and treating older adults. They work together to develop individualized treatment plans with special considerations for older populations.
  2. The geriatric psychiatry unit allows patients to relate to other patients similar in age. It can be more difficult for older adults to engage in group treatment with young adults as they are experiencing different life events. Also, older adults may feel more uncomfortable when grouped with younger adults when generational differences may be extreme. Group therapy is more dynamic when members can relate to one another.
  3. You can expect a unit designed for you or your loved one’s comfort and safety. This includes wide, carpeted hallways with railings easily maneuvered with an assistive device such as a walker or wheelchair if needed. Our hallways are also designed for safe means of exercise and wandering.
  4.  The geriatric psychiatry units treat similar diagnoses, such as depression, anxiety, obsessive/compulsive behaviors, and combativeness or aggression. You can expect to be involved in group therapy with individuals with similar experiences.
  5. You will receive education and support in adjusting to life changes such as grief and loss, increased dependency needs, and adjusting to new roles in life that are common in older adults.
  6. The geriatric psychiatry unit offers specialized programming. The groups at Southwest Health are intended to meet the needs and interests of people of all different backgrounds and cognitive and physical abilities and are designed for the older generation. Group treatment is focused on various topics, including developing leisure interests, such as music and trivia from earlier eras and age-appropriate arts and crafts, reminiscing tools, exercise groups designed to meet the patient’s needs and challenges, building self-esteem, illness education groups, coping skills education, providing relaxation techniques, stress management, and effective communication skills.
  7. Our staff can provide support and education for family members. Our staff can provide education on diagnosis and medications and information on local support groups and community resources.
  8. You or your loved one will receive specialized discharge planning. Our staff is aware of local resources to meet the needs of older adults, such as outpatient mental health follow-up, memory clinic options, community support groups, caregiver support groups, and placement options.

If Southwest Health Behavioral Services geriatric inpatient unit could assist you or your loved one, please contact (608) 348-3656 to begin a referral. 

Southwest Health Behavioral Services (SBS) is the mental health service line at Southwest Health. SBS has been part of Southwest Health since 1998 and has grown and developed around the community’s needs. SBS includes Inpatient Geriatric Psychiatry serving people 55 and older, Outpatient psychiatric care for people six and older, medication management and psychotherapy for those 13 and older, and Memory Diagnostic Clinic. If you have questions about SBS or want to schedule an appointment, please call (608) 348-3656.