Anxiety Disorders:

The term for anxiety disorders occurring for the first time in later life is "late onset neurosis." Panic disorder in the elderly may be more common than previously believed. Phobias are also frequent, especially in the aftermath of a major life change or stressful situation.

Alcoholism and Drug Dependency:

Alcohol and drug abuse account for 10 percent of all emotional problems among seniors. This is a concern more common than is generally recognized, primarily because the drugs of choice are not illegal substances, but prescribed or over-the-counter medications. Drug-dependent seniors do not exhibit the same behavior as dependent young people. Instead, they may experience falls, confusion, poor personal hygiene, depression and malnutrition. Over the counter medication abusers frequently misuse laxatives, pain compounds and sleep medication. In many cases, seniors have a difficult time letting go of substances, yet intervention and treatment are critical to restore physical and psychological health and social functioning.


Dementia is characterized by decreased intellectual function, personality change and impairment of judgment. A critical problem with dementia is that it often sets off a debilitating cycle of loneliness as the cognitive dysfunction progresses. Failing memory, disorientation and lack of interpersonal contact can lead to depression, anxiety and a house-bound senior. Early intervention is critical for those with dementia.

Seeking Help:

At Columbia Las Encinas Hospital, we have established a wide services for geriatric psychiatry (or gero-psychiatry). These programs include inpatient care, outpatient programs and a new gero-psychiatric unit for rapid stabilization. In all these services, multidisciplinary staff work closely with the caregiver to help restore mental well-being.

The key to senior mental health is seeking help when problems are suspected. The Columbia Las Encinas Gero-Psychiatric assessment team may be contacted at 800/792-2345.

Our Chemical Dependency Program is built around the foundation of detoxification and evaluation, personalizing each individual's day treatment and outpatient treatment.

The Outpatient Chemical Dependency Service provides a critical level of care for patients in need of transition from more intensive treatment. The evening hours allow for patients to return to work, while retaining the structure and support of the program.

COLUMBIA Las Encinas is available as a resource 24-hours a day through our intervention, assessment and referral service, RESPOND. Staffed by licensed psychiatric nurses and social workers, RESPOND is available to perform assessments both at the hospital and off site.

Columbia Las Encinas services are available at competitive rates and are covered by most insurance plans, including many managed care providers.

As healthcare and the surrounding communities continue to change, Columbia Las Encinas Hospital remains in step. We work with insurers, government, community members and clinicians to meet the challenges ahead. What is ahead for the hospital's second hundred years? We look to helping even more people by continuing to expand our network of services. It is a big task for changing, and often challenging times. Yet, the oldest and most important tradition at Columbia Las Encinas Hospital, its approach to patient care, remains its top priority - Not just to live but to enjoy living."


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