Monday, April 13, 2009

Old people and mental health

In a national study of older peoples' mental health services in Britain - Equality in Later Life - the following paragraph stands out:
As a result of the ageing population, the number of people with dementia in the UK is set to increase significantly. At present, there are approximately 700,000 people with dementia and it is estimated that there will be over a million people with dementia by 2025. The financial cost of dementia to the UK each year is over £17 billion and is set to increase.
While younger people in Britain have been increasingly assisted in terms of mental health issues, older people have received the short end of the stick. In fact, the framework for mental health only addresses the mental health needs of working people up to the age of 65. Part of the issue is cost: it's estimated that eliminating age discrimination in adult health services in England could require an additional £2 billion, against a current spend of £8.4 billion.
The situation is unlikely to be dissimilar in New Zealand. Here is another area in which churches could begin to think beyond their current approaches to older people, and become innovative.

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