Innovating to Meet the Needs of Our Aging Population

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The population of the United States is rapidly aging. As the number of older adults increases, their mental health needs increase as well. With this, the need for mental health practitioners to possess the necessary competence to meet the diverse needs of older adults also increases. The characteristics and needs of the older adult population are reviewed to include healthy aging, disorders and challenges associated with the aging process, and related treatment needs are addressed. Steps for obtaining and maintaining the competence to effectively provide clinical services to the older adult population are explained along with a review of the APA Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Older Adults (APA, 2014). The needs of caregivers and both ethics and legal issues relevant to the treatment of older adults are emphasized. The role of interprofessional practice and active collaboration with other health care providers is explained. Recommendations are made for the mental health professions, for practicing mental health clinicians, and for mental health clinicians in training to take needed action now to meet the mental health needs of this population.

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