Mental Wellness Month draws to a close, but UT continues to care for seniors

January 26, 2016 | Features, UTMC
By Samantha Watson

When it comes to mental health, caring for seniors can be very different than caring for children, adolescents or young adults.

For the past year and a half, the University has been providing specialized care for adults 55 and older through UT Health’s Senior Behavioral Health.

“Senior Behavioral Health is a specialized program that is able to provide appropriate and individualized care for older adults,” said Ryan Domschot, community education manager for Senior Behavioral Health.

According to Domschot, a majority of the individuals seen at Senior Behavioral Health are experiencing some behavioral issues that are unusual for them. The patients are having difficulties expressing their feelings, and they can become combative, verbally aggressive and/or physically aggressive, and may have thoughts of hurting themselves or others.

Senior Behavioral Health works on creating a better quality of life for the patient and helping manage these behaviors.

“One of the primary ways we help patients is to evaluate their medications,” Domschot said. “Many of our patients come in on a variety of unnecessary medications — and may have been misdiagnosed or over-medicated by other doctors.”

Domschot said Dr. Bryan Moloney, medical doctor at Senior Behavioral Health, is able to spend more time with patients than a doctor seeing someone on an outpatient basis, and is able to gain an accurate assessment of how to effectively work with the patients and meet their needs.

“The way geriatric patients metabolize medications is different than adults,” Domschot said. “It takes a little bit longer so see any results; therefore, we tend to work with our patients on average 10 to 12 days before discharge. This helps us observe any adverse behaviors and make adjustments as necessary. Our goal is to give the patient the best quality of life with the least amount of medication.”

The program also provides patients with individualized occupational, physical and other therapies from an integrated health-care team that includes nursing staff, recreational therapists and family therapists.

“Our results speak for themselves,” Domschot said. “We have seen a great improvement with individuals who suffer from depression, anxiety and dementia-related issues. We are always working to improve our program, but so far we have been very satisfied with the outcomes.”

If you think Senior Behavioral Health can make a difference in your life or the life of a loved one, call 844.266.4889. A clinical staff member will assist you in determining whether an inpatient stay is necessary or if the issue can be addressed by another local resource.

Within the next three months, the program will offer a virtual tour to give the community an online experience of what is available and how it can help. Be sure to check for updates.

Domschot also leads educational seminars in the community on a variety of topics, including dementia, hoarding versus collecting, holiday blues, interacting with staff members and more. The next free seminar, which is geared toward caretakers and seniors but open to all, will be Wednesday, Feb. 24, from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Sylvania Senior Center, 7140 Sylvania Ave, Sylvania. The topic will be hoarding versus collecting.

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