Baby Boomers Could Face Inadequate Care for Mental Health, Substance Abuse
A new report released by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) says that millions of baby boomers could face difficulties getting diagnoses and treatment for mental health conditions and substance abuse problems unless there is a major effort to significantly boost the number of health professionals and other service providers able to provide this care as the population ages.
The report estimates that between 5.6 million and 8 million Americans age 65 and older (approximately 14-20% of the nation's elderly population) have mental health conditions or substance abuse problems. Depressive disorders and dementia-related behavioral and psychiatric symptoms are the most prevalent, although 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.
Among other actions, in the report IOM calls for a redesign of Medicare and Medicaid payment rules to guarantee coverage of counseling, care management and other mental health/substance abuse services.
Click here to download the full report.