Since beginning my PhD in September 2015 I am often asked about my plan of study over the next few years. I typically respond by explaining that I will be focusing on the experiences of older people with mental health concerns. The assumption is that I will work on Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. I then clarify that my focus is on mental health conditions like depression and anxiety in late life rather than dementia. I am then usually met with a familiar response: “Is that type of mental illness really a problem for older people? Isn’t dementia their biggest concern?”. Sometimes, they follow up with prevalence statistics about the lower percentages of people affected. Interestingly, it would seem that many people feel that because the rates of mental illnesses, including depression and anxiety, are lower among older populations, that these types of conditions need not be prioritized. This is simply not the case.
For more on this article, click here.