Many of us decided very early in life that we would like to work in geriatric mental health. Even more of us “accidentally” end up where we are. Linda Teri, a psychologist who has done some excellent work in behavioral management in dementia care was focusing on child and adolescent development before last-minute changes in post-doctoral training opportunities sent her into geriatric care.
Some people never thought they would enjoy working with old people and/or those with mental health issues, but ended up being very passionate about it. Some of my most dedicated coworkers used to work with high school students and incarcerated youths. While some admit it’s only a matter of time before they left geriatric mental health, they are good at applying the skills they acquired working with another population. What impresses me the most is that they never give up advocating for the population they hold closest to their heart.
If anyone were to stumble upon this blog, it would be people who are in eldercare or mental health care in some personal or professional capacity. This is great, but it’s like preaching to the choir. If anything, I’d like to make my child psychologist friend realize how the quality of care in nursing homes may influence children who are raised by their grandparents or whose family is dealing with dementia-caregiving. I’d like my restaurant owner relative see the importance of providing staff training to deal with patrons with behavioral issues, and menus and utensils that are friendly to older adults with specific dietary and functional needs.
We all know at least one person who is always doing something to promote and protect the rights of children in our society. Most of them do not work with children directly. Yet, that actually gives them the opportunity to rally support from a wider audience. Aging and mental health issues are everywhere. There will always be ways to raise awareness and sow seeds for positive changes, whether you make it your profession or not.