Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Gerontology

First Advisor

Marilyn Patterson

Second Advisor

Betty Lemasters

Third Advisor

Lynette Gerschefske


A most recent trend in the field of psychiatric health care has been to provide services for the elderly on highly specialized "geropsychiatric units" located within the confines of a general hospital and operated as a new component of the psychiatric treatment divisions.

Four local hospitals were surveyed regarding their in-patient mental health services for the elderly. The goal was to identify where geropsychiatric services were currently being offered and if their services were located on a special geropsychiatric unit, specific only to those patients over 65 years of age. Each hospital was surveyed as to the types of staff working on these units (RN's, Social Workers, Psychologists, Medical Director, Activity Therapists, etc.), their individual backgrounds and previous experience with the elderly, the various types of assessment tools utilized and various components of the individual programs. The hospitals surveyed were: De Paul Hospital, Christian Hospital Northwest, St. Anthony's Psychiatric Center and Barnes - St. Peters Hospital.

The survey clearly supported the premise that general hospitals with psychiatric services will experience a drama tic increase in the number of elderly patients seeking mental health services and that this population has special needs relating specifically to age.

Each hospital representative confirmed that their specific review of the demographics of the population within their service areas, along with the national projections for increase in the surviving elderly population, compared directly to their respective admissions data of more services being provided for the elderly, especially in the areas of counseling and psychiatric services. These needs are currently being met by the hospitals surveyed, on the geropsychiatric units which they have already developed -- which emphasize treatment services separate from their acute, adult (younger) psychiatric patients.

This paper will report on the results of the survey and discuss the need and justification for developing a geropsychiatric unit at St. Joseph Health Center - St. Joseph Hospital West in St. Charles County, Missouri.