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SAMHSA News - July/August 2004, Volume 12, Number 4

From the Administrator: Mental Health for Older Americans

Charles G. Curie, M.A., A.C.S.W., Administrator, SAMHSA

Americans age 65 and older are living longer and, in many cases, finding greater opportunities for a satisfying life in their later years. But for many older adults—particularly those experiencing mental disorders or substance abuse—a sense of well-being remains elusive.

Some older adults experience late onset of mental and addictive illnesses; others have experienced them throughout their lives. Older adults may experience depression and anxiety as they face physical decline, death of family members and other loved ones, and increased limitations on independence. In lieu of seeking treatment, some older adults—as with other populations—may "self-medicate" with alcohol. Further, older adults may misuse prescription medications, often inadvertently.

As the Baby Boom generation ages, the number of older adults is increasing, underscoring the imperative for SAMHSA to respond to unmet needs.

The principle underlying all our programs at SAMHSA is that people of all ages with or at risk for mental or addictive disorders should have the opportunity to lead fulfilling lives in their communities. SAMHSA has already developed a number of programs and initiatives for older adults—some of them highlighted in this issue of SAMHSA News—while simultaneously formulating a SAMHSA-wide Older Adults Action Plan that will coordinate and enhance all our efforts.

For example, SAMHSA awarded $5 million through a Targeted Capacity Expansion program in 2002 that emphasizes both early intervention and the development and use of successful practices for older adults with mental illnesses. (See cover story, Older Adults: Improving Mental Health Services.) This program also includes a Positive Aging Resource Center, which not only provides assistance to the program's grantees, but also offers information to older adults, their caregivers, and health and social service professionals. (See SAMHSA News, Resources for Older Adults.)

In August, SAMHSA is joining with the Administration on Aging and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to hold a Policy Academy on Aging. Eight competitively selected states will develop or enhance their service systems for older adults through a more comprehensive and coordinated approach.

Our goal at SAMHSA is not merely to manage symptoms but to build resilience and facilitate recovery. We need to remember that mental health promotion and substance abuse reduction are issues throughout the continuum of life. We must offer everyone—including older adults—treatment, support, and services that reflect a full range of interventions, so that every American, across all age groups, has the chance to pursue a fulfilling life in the community.

Charles G. Curie, M.A., A.C.S.W.
Administrator, SAMHSA

« See Part 1: Older Adults: Improving Mental Health Services

« See Part 2: Older Adults: Improving Mental Health Services

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Inside This Issue

Older Adults: Improving Mental Health Services
  • Part 1
  • Part 2
    Older Adults—Related Content:
  • From the Administrator: Mental Health for Older Americans
  • Resources for Older Adults
  • Targeted Capacity Expansion Sites
  • Countering Stigma
  • Prescription Drugs & Alcohol Don't Mix
  • Increases in Substance Abuse Treatment
      Chart—All Admissions, 2001
  • Safety Tips on Medicines & Alcohol

    Stigma and Mental Illness: SAMHSA Raises Awareness

    SAMHSA Unveils Strategic Prevention Framework

    In Brief…
  • HIPAA Publication
  • Publications in Spanish
  • Children's Program Kit
  • ADSS Cost Study

    Behind the Numbers: SAMHSA's Survey on Drug Use

    For Many Youth, Summer Means First-Time Substance Use
    Related Content:  
  • Chart—First Time Substance Use
  • Young Drivers Report

    SAMHSA Releases Updated Directory of Treatment Programs

    Tip 40—Buprenorphine Treatment: Guide for Physicians

    Treatment Admissions Increase for Opiates, Marijuana, Methamphetamine

    Drug-Abusing Mothers Place Their Children at Risk

    Non-medical Use of Prescription Pain Relievers Increases

    Recovery Month Toolkit Now Available

    SAMHSA Revamps Agency Web Site, Improves Usability

    SAMHSA News

    SAMHSA News - July/August 2004, Volume 12, Number 4

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