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Mental health provision "ignoring" elderly

Government mental health services are failing more than 3.5 million older people in the UK, a report suggests.

The UK Inquiry into Mental Health and Wellbeing in Later Life, supported by Age Concern, has recommended 35 ways that the government could shape up its services.

The team calls for age discrimination to be eliminated from mental health provision and wants improved housing, health and social care services for the elderly.

Some 2.6 million older people live with depression and one in five over 80 years of age have dementia.

The report suggests services often ignore older people, who tend to receive little support.

Chairman of the Inquiry Dr June Crown said: "Mental health problems in later life are not an inevitable part of ageing. They are often preventable and treatable, and action to improve the lives of other older people who experience mental health difficulties is long overdue.

"Current services for older people with mental health problems are inadequate in range, quantity and in quality."

She adds that older people have been "denied the fair treatment that should be a hallmark of a civilised society."

Older people's mental health remains poorly understood with two thirds of elderly people with depression never discussing it with their GP.

Of the third who do discuss their symptoms, only half are diagnosed and treated.

Director General of Age Concern Gordon Lishman said: "The Inquiry shows the true scale of the problems, but it also gives hope for the future in the shape of practical steps that can help the millions of older people suffering from a mental health problem."

Age Concern

UK Inquiry into Mental Health and Wellbeing into Later Life

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