Consultant Psychiatric, Dr. Griffin Benjamin, is expressing concern about the level of care received by some of the elderly in the Dominican society.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of a Mental Health Workshop for caregivers of the elderly, Dr. Benjamin said that the mental health of the elderly is a growing concern.
“We in the Ministry of Health realize that the professional skills that we have is not limited to only persons who are admitted to a hospital. We should do what our mandate asks which is to meet the people before they become ill,” he said. “Meet them in a community setting and prevent complications even if they are ill.”
He noted that care givers were being trained so they could improve their understanding which in turn, would help them identify emotional problems of the elderly and highlight ways and means to seek help when it is needed.
Also the workshop will provide the care givers with methods of coping so they could deal with the challenges that they may face when dealing with the elderly, according to Dr. Benjamin.
“Older persons are very important to our society and I believe that in times past older persons received better care than they receive today and I say that without any doubt because I know how I grew up and I know how much we surrounded our grandparents when they became 60 and above,” he pointed out. “How much they served a useful purpose of comforting you and reminding you of your values and ensuring that you did the right thing.”
He stated that today’s older people are not benefiting from that type of respect any more.
“We, as adults are migrating, or are too busy doing other things in our lives and we don’t pay attention to our older persons. This workshop addresses that deficit or gap. That fear that older persons are having of becoming 60 and beyond,” he said.
In the meantime, Social Worker, Lesley-Ann Waldron highlighted that various factors may affect the mental health of the elderly. Those factors include bereavement, physical disability, change in roles and maltreatment.
Waldron indicated that it is not recommended for mentally ill elderly people to be placed in the psychiatric unit but instead should be placed in a community or home setting.