Mental health 12/04/2013 at 15:35

Age Equality And Mental Health

popuRight now there are over 10 million people in the UK who are over 65 years old. These numbers are expected to increase over the next 20 years. People are living longer and healthier lives and the older generation is a huge part of our society.

Even so, a number of recent reports have indicated that the older generations are often discriminated against in many different areas and especially in the mental health realm.

Many older people suffer from mental health issues such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Older people are also more likely to suffer from such things as delirium in different situations such as hospital admissions or admissions to long-term care facilities. It is crucial that older people are able to receive equal care in every situation and especially in the mental health field.

The National Institute for Mental Health in England (NIMHE) understands this. It has implemented the Mental Health In Later Life Programme which evolved into the Age Equality in Later Life Programme. This program works to ensure continued development of mental health services in England. It offers support to communities and organizations to implement policy and promote innovation. The program works with organizations specializing in social care and health. It works to foster collaboration within the public, volunteer and independent sectors.
Unfortunately age discrimination is prevalent in our society. Age discrimination is an unfair, unjustifiable difference in treatment based solely upon the age of the individual. This type of discrimination can be direct, such as denying equal treatment solely because the patient is over the age of 65 or it can be indirect such as offering poor quality dementia services to the population as a whole, thereby discriminating against older people because they need those services more frequently.

When people of different age groups with different requirements are treated in basically the same manner, the result is that many of the needs of the various groups are not fully met. People of different age groups have different concerns. It is important to address the needs of all as equitably as possible.

Mental health issues occur at a much higher rate in the aging population. Achieving age equality in our society is a moral imperative. With our growing population of older people it is also a financial and legal imperative for society to work on achieving equality in mental health care.