The collective expertise of three agencies in addressing addiction prevention and treatment was shared with a capacity audience at the recent "3 D" conference held earlier this month. Carrier Clinic, NCADD of Middlesex and Princeton House Behavioral Health collaborated to address Depression, Dementia and Drug Abuse in Older Adults. The conference focused on meeting the practical learning needs of therapists, social workers, nurses and others who work with older adults.
The audience heard first from Steve Liga, NCADD's Executive Director and CEO. His entertaining presentation took the form of "a conversation with Mom" that touched on important issues that are frequently difficult to talk about. Participants learned that 75% of adults who are on prescription medications do not take them the right way. The "conversation" addressed the interaction between different medications and their side effects, as well as the problems caused by mixing alcohol with medications. It also addressed the fear of stigma attached to talking about these issues with a physician or counselor.
Dr. David Cordon, Outpatient Services Medical Director at Princeton House Behavioral Health, addressed late life mood disorders, specifically depression, which is the most common serious psychiatric disorder seen in the elderly. This, combined with the fact that by the year 2030 almost 20% of the population of the United States will be over 65 years of age, presents significant impact for clinicians working to address depressive symptoms in older adults.
An Overview of Dementia was presented by Dr. Shailaja K. Shah, Clinical Psychiatrist at Carrier Clinic. She summarized the causes, symptoms and current treatment for dementia in the older adult population which in 60-70% of cases is caused by Alzheimer's disease. She described a wide variety of medications and treatment intervention and provided important information on caregiver support, education and the need for respite care.
The last component of the conference was a panel discussion with several practitioners who shared their different perspectives on Substance Abuse, Grief & Loss in the Elderly. Kristin R. Carr, Grief Recovery Specialist/Lead Clinical Services Counselor at Carrier Clinic, Helen Varvi, Program Director at NCADD-Middlesex and Jamie Winters, Senior Primary Therapist at Princeton House Behavioral Health provided insight into their work on addressing grief and loss with older adults from both a prevention and treatment perspective.
Programs of this nature present a broad perspective that looks at these issues in a continuum from prevention through intervention and treatment and based on the feedback from the audience, more programs of this nature will be planned for the future.
Pictured at a panel discussion titled "Discussing Substance Abuse, Grief & Loss in the Elderly" are (from left) moderator Steve Liga, NCADD's CEO & Executive Director, Kristin R. Carr, BA, MA, Grief Recovery Specialist and Lead Clinical Services Counselor at Carrier Clinic, Jamie Winters, MSW, LCSW, Senior Primary Therapist at Princeton House Behavioral Health, and Helen T. Varvi, M.Ed., CPS, Program Director at NCADD-Middlesex.