Depression is the most common mental health condition prevalent in the elderly, and it is treatable. Thanks to a new training program called “The Clear Path Project” home care agencies in New Hampshire have the capability to care for seniors throughout the state with depression and other mental health diagnosis.
Depression in this age group often goes untreated because many people think it is a normal part of aging—a natural reaction to chronic illness, loss and social transition. While it’s true that older people do face many challenges and losses, often the symptoms of clinical depression go unrecognized by family and friends. The Clear Path Project has set out to change that by training nurses to provide skilled nursing care to those with behavioral health needs.
Twenty Home Care Agencies across New Hampshire have committed to building capacity, improving access to behavioral health services in their communities, and to improving overall health quality for our seniors through this collaborative program. With proper physician diagnosis and treatment of behavioral disorders, together we can help get home bound seniors back on the path to health and wholeness.
The homebound elderly are more likely to have behavioral health conditions than other seniors. Providing them with the treatment can be challenging. A national study showed that the prevalence of depression in the homebound elderly ranges from 13% to 46%; 78% of them were not getting the treatment they needed.
In New Hampshire, more than half of NH Medicaid patients older than 65 have a behavioral health condition. In response to growing concerns about unmet needs, the Home Care Association of New Hampshire created The Clear Path Project. Its goal is to improve patient care and over all health outcomes for homebound seniors with psychiatric diagnoses. Twenty home health care agencies – covering all of New Hampshire – are expanding their capabilities to offer psychiatric skilled care.
These agencies are working with physicians to implement Medicare-compliant plans of care for patients with:
- Bi-polar disorder
- Patient must have a psychiatric illness
- Patient must be homebound
- Patient must require the skills of psychiatric nurse
- Patient must be under the care of a physician
- Patient is a danger to self or others
- Patient is actively abusing drugs/alcohol and is in substance abuse treatment
- Comprehensive assessment
- Individualized treatment plans
- Medication management & education
- Care management
- Individual & family supportive psycho-education
- Behavior management
- Education of disease processes
- Linkage to community services
Addressing Depression with Home Care Patients and Their Families
Information on Depression
Hartford Institute of Geriatric Nursing– Depression Resources
National Institutes of Health– Older Adults and Depression
Implementation & Evaluation of Care Program
Save– Elderly Depression Program
American Psychological Association– Depression in Older Adults Resource Guide
HelpGuide on Anti Depressants
Consumer Reports article on antidepressants
FDA consumer information on antidepressants
Quick Reference to Psychiatric Drugs