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INFLUENTIAL PUBLICATION   |    
The Psychiatric Interview of Older Adults
Dan G. Blazer, M.D., Ph.D.
FOCUS 2004;2:224-235.
View Author and Article Information

(Reprinted with permission from

Blazer DG: The Psychiatric Interview of Older Adults, in The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Geriatric Psychiatry, 3rd ed. Edited by Blazer DG, Steffens DC, Busse EW. Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Publishing, 2004, chap 9
)

Copyright 2004 American Psychiatric Association

The foundation of the diagnostic workup of the older adult experiencing a psychiatric disorder is the diagnostic interview. Unfortunately, in this age of increasing technology in the laboratory and standardization of interview techniques, the art of the clinical interview has suffered. In this chapter the core of the psychiatric interview, including history taking, assessment of the family, and the mental status examination, is reviewed. To supplement the clinical interview, structured interview schedules and rating scales that are of value in the assessment of older adults are described. Finally, techniques for communicating effectively with older adults are outlined.

The elements of a diagnostic workup of the el-derly patient are presented in Table 1T1. To obtain historical information, the clinician should first interview the patient, if it is feasible. Then permission can be asked of the patient to interview family members. Members from at least two generations, if available for interview, can expand the perspective on the older adult’s impairment. If the patient has difficulty in providing an accurate or understandable history, the clinician should concentrate especially on eliciting the symptoms or problems that the patient perceives as being most disabling, then fill the historical gap with data from the family.

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Present illness

DSM-IV and its text revision, DSM-IV-TR (American Psychiatric Association 1994, 2000), provide the clinician with a useful catalogue of symptoms and behaviors of psychiatric interest that are relevant to the diagnosis of the present illness. Symptoms are bits of data—the most visible part of the clinical picture and generally the part most easily agreed on among clinicians. Symptoms should be defined in such a way that, if clinicians each obtain equivalent information, minimal disagreement arises about the presence or absence of a symptom. The decision about whether those symptoms form a syndrome or derive from a particular etiology must be determined independently of the data collection on symptoms (see Chapter 2, "Demography and Epidemiology of Psychiatric Disorders in Late Life," in The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Geriatric Psychiatry, 3rd ed.).

Even so, the clinical interaction may be confounded by bias when a clinician communicates with an older adult about psychiatric symptoms. As many insightful clinicians, such as Eisenberg (1977), have recognized, physicians diagnose and treat diseases—that is, abnormalities in the structure and function of body organs and systems. Patients have illnesses—experiences of disvalued changes in states of being and in social function. Disease and illness do not maintain a one-to-one relationship. Factors that determine who becomes a patient and who does not can be understood only by expanding horizons beyond symptoms. In other words, patienthood is a social state (Eisenberg and Kleinman 1981). During the process of becoming a patient, the older adult, usually with the advice of others, forms a self-diagnosis of his or her problem and makes a judgment about the degree of ill-being perceived. For some, illness is perceived when a specific discomfort is experienced. For others, illness reflects a general perception of physical or social alienation and despair. Given that few uniform, satisfactory definitions of illness (or ill-being) exist, it is not surprising that terms for wellness (or well-being) also mean different things to different people. The historical background and the values of the older adult in a social class and culture contribute to the formation of constructs regarding the nature of the problem, the cause, and the possibility for recovery.

For this reason, the clinician must take care to avoid accepting the patient’s explanation for a given problem or set of problems. Statements such as "I guess I’m just getting old and there’s nothing really to worry about" or "Most people slow down when they get to be my age" can lull the clinician into complacency about what may be a treatable psychiatric disorder. On the other hand, the advent of new and disturbing symptoms in an older adult between each office visit can exhaust the clinician’s patience to the point at which adequate pursuit of the problem is derailed. For example, the older adult with hypochondria whose difficulty with awakenings during the night is increasing may insist that this symptom be treated with a sedative and plead with the clinician not to allow continual suffering. In the clinician’s view, however, the symptom is a normal accompaniment of old age and therefore should be accepted. Distress over changes in functioning, such as sexual functioning, may overwhelm the older adult patient and, especially if the clinician is perceived as unconcerned, may precipitate self-medication or even a suicide attempt.

To prevent attitudinal biases when eliciting reports by the older adult (which may result in missing the symptoms and signs of a treatable psychiatric disorder), the clinician must include in the initial interview a review of the more important psychiatric symptoms in a relatively structured format. Common symptoms that should be reviewed include excessive weakness or lethargy; depressed mood or the blues; memory problems; difficulty concentrating; feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and uselessness; isolation; suspicion of others; anxiety and agitation; sleep problems; and appetite problems. Critical symptoms that should be reviewed include the presence or absence of suicidal thoughts, profound anhedonia, impulsive behavior ("I can’t control myself"), confusion, and delusions and hallucinations.

The review of symptoms is most valuable when it is considered in the context of symptom presentation. When did the symptoms begin? How long have they lasted? Has their severity changed over time? Are there physical or environmental events that precipitate the symptoms? What steps, if any, have been taken to try to correct the symptoms? Have any of these interventions proved successful? Do the symptoms vary during the day (diurnal variation)? Do they vary during the week or with seasons of the year? Do the symptoms form clusters—that is, are they associated with one another? Which symptoms appear ego-syntonic and which symptoms appear ego-dystonic? As symptoms are reviewed, a specific time frame facilitates focus on the present illness. Having a 1-month or 6-month window enables the patient to review symptoms and events temporally, an approach not usually taken by distressed elders, who tend to concentrate on immediate sufferings.

Critical to the assessment of the present illness is an assessment of function and change in function. The two parameters that are most important (and not included in usual assessments of physical and psychiatric illness) are social functioning and activities of daily living (ADLs). Questions should be asked about the social interaction of the older adult, such as the frequency of his or her visits outside the home, telephone calls, and visits from family and friends. Many scales have been developed to assess ADLs; however, in the interview the clinician can simply ask about ability to get around (for example, walk inside and outside the house), to perform certain physical activities independently (such as bathe, dress, shave, brush one’s teeth, and pick out one’s clothes) and to do instrumental activities (such as cook, keep one’s bank account, shop, and drive).

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Past history

Next, the clinician must review the past history of symptoms and episodes. The patient should be asked if he or she has had a similar episode or episodes in the past. How long did the episodes last? When did they occur? How many times in the patient’s lifetime have such episodes occurred? Unfortunately, the older adult may not equate present distress with past episodes that are symptomatically similar, so the perspective of the family is especially valuable in the attempt to link current and past episodes. Other psychiatric and medical problems should be reviewed as well, especially medical illnesses that have led to hospitalization and the use of medication. Not infrequently, the older adult has experienced a major illness or trauma in childhood or as a younger adult, but he or she views this information as being of no relevance to the present episode and therefore dismisses it. Probes to elicit these data are essential. Older adults may ignore or even forget past psychiatric difficulties, especially if these difficulties were disguised. For example, mood swings in early or middle life may have occurred during periods of excessive and productive activity, episodes of excessive alcohol intake, or periods of vague, undiagnosed physical problems. Previous periods of overt disability in usual activities may flag those episodes. An older person sometimes becomes angry or irritated when the clinician continues to probe. Reassurance regarding the importance of obtaining this information will generally suffice, except when dealing with a patient who cannot tolerate the discomfort and distress, even for brief periods. Older persons who have chronic and moderately severe anxiety or a histrionic personality style, as well as distressed Alzheimer’s patients, tolerate their symptoms poorly.

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Family history

The distribution of psychiatric symptoms and illnesses in the family should be determined next. The older person with symptoms consistent with senile dementia or primary degenerative dementia is highly likely to have a family history of dementia. The genogram remains one of the best means for evaluating the distribution of mental illness and other relevant behaviors throughout the family tree. This genogram should include both of the parents, blood-related aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, spouse(s), children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. A history should be obtained about institutionalization, significant memory problems in family members, hospitalization for a nervous breakdown or depressive disorder, suicide, alcohol abuse and dependence, electroconvulsive therapy, long-term residence in a mental health facility (and possibly a diagnosis of schizophrenia), and use of mental health services by family members (Blazer 1984).

Of relevance to the pharmacological treatment of certain disorders in older adults—especially depression—is the tendency of individuals in a family to respond therapeutically to the same pharmacological agent. If the older adult has a depressive disorder and biological relatives have been treated effectively for depression, the clinician should determine what pharmacological agent was used to treat the depression. For example, a positive response to sertraline in a family member of the depressed older patient could make sertraline the drug of choice in treating that patient, assuming side effects are not at issue (Ayd 1975).

Mendlewicz and colleagues (1975) remind us that accurate genetic information can be better obtained when family members from more than one generation are interviewed. Many psychiatric disorders are characterized by a variety of symptoms, so asking the patient or one family member for a history of depression is insufficient. Research on the genetic expression of psychiatric disorders in families requires the psychiatric investigator to interview directly as many family members as possible to determine accurately the distribution of disorders throughout the family. Such detailed family assessment is not feasible for clinicians, yet a telephone call to a relative with permission from the patient may become a standard of clinical assessment as the genetics of psychiatric disorders are clarified.

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Context

Psychiatric disorders occur in a biomedical and psychosocial context. The clinician, although he or she will of course determine what medical problems the patient has experienced, might overlook a variation in the relative contribution of these medical disorders to psychopathology. The psychosocial contribution to the onset and continuance of the problem is just as likely to be overlooked. Has the spouse of the older adult undergone a change? Are the middle-aged children managing high stress, such as caring for an emotionally disturbed child and the loss of employment simultaneously? Are the grandchildren placing emotional stress on the elderly patient, perhaps requesting money? Has the economic status of the older adult deteriorated? Has the availability of medical care changed? Although many psychiatric disorders are biologically driven, they do not occur in a psychosocial vacuum. Environmental precipitants remain important in the web of causation leading to the onset of an episode of emotional distress and are critical to the assessment of the older adult.

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Medication history

Next, it is essential to evaluate the medication history of the older adult. A careful review of medications by the clinician is essential, although this may be done by a nurse or a physician’s assistant. The clinician should ask the older person to bring in all pill bottles as well as a list of medications taken and the dosage schedule. A double check between the written schedule and the pill containers will frequently expose some discrepancy. Both prescription and over-the-counter drugs, such as laxatives and vitamins, should be recorded. The clinician can then identify the medications that are potentially critical in terms of drug-drug interactions and ask about them during subsequent visits.

Most elderly persons take a variety of medicines simultaneously, and the potential for drug-drug interaction is high. For example, concomitant use of fluoxetine and warfarin has been associated with an increase in the half-life of warfarin, which could lead to severe bruising (although this finding is not well documented). Some medications prescribed for older persons—such as the beta-blocker propranolol and the antihypertensive drug alpha-methyldopa—can exacerbate or produce depressive symptoms. Antianxiety agents and sedative-hypnotics can precipitate episodes of confusion and depression. Antidepressants, such as the tricyclics (TCAs), may adversely interact with other drugs, including the antihypertensive agent clonidine. Simultaneous administration of clonidine and a TCA may lead to poorly controlled episodes of hypertension with confusional episodes and possibly an exacerbation of vascular (multi-infarct) dementia. The physician, a nurse, a social worker, or a paraprofessional should carefully determine present and past medication use through a historical inventory and a review of the patient’s medicine containers brought to the office.

Older persons are less likely than younger persons to abuse alcohol, but a careful history of alcohol intake is essential to the diagnostic workup. Older persons do not usually volunteer information about their alcohol intake, but they are generally forthcoming when asked about their drinking habits. Substance abuse beyond alcohol and prescription drugs is rare in older adults but not entirely absent.

Given the high likelihood of comorbid medical problems associated with psychiatric disorders in late life, a comprehensive medical history is essential. Most older persons see a primary care physician fairly regularly (although decreasing payment by Medicare renders this assumption less accurate each year). The geriatric psychiatrist should obtain medical records, if possible. Major illnesses should be recorded. A brief phone call to the primary care physician can be extremely useful.

Clinicians working with older adults must be equipped to evaluate the family—both its functionality and its potential as a resource for the older adult. Geriatric psychiatry, almost by definition, is family psychiatry. Just as an elevated white blood cell count is not pathognomonic for a particular infectious agent yet is critical to the diagnosis, the complaint that "my family no longer loves me" does not reveal the specific problems in the family yet does highlight the need to assess the potential of that family for providing care and support for the older adult (Blazer 1984). Determination of the nature of the family structure in interaction, the presence or absence of a crisis in the family, and the type and amount of support available to the older adult are the basic goals of a comprehensive diagnostic family workup.

The genogram detailing the distribution of illnesses across a family has already been described. A family tree review of individuals’ roles in the family, as well as of members’ availability to provide care to the older adult, is equally important. For clinical purposes, the family consists not only of individuals genetically related but also of those who have developed relationships and are living together as if they were related (Miller and Miller 1979). Many older adults, especially those who have been widowed, have close friendships that are virtually familial.

A primary goal of the clinician, as advocate for the psychiatrically disturbed older adult, is to facilitate family support for the elder during a time of disability. At least four parameters of support are important for the clinician to evaluate as the treatment plan evolves. These include 1) availability of family members to the older person over time; 2) the tangible services provided by the family to the disturbed older person; 3) the perception of family support by the older patient (and therefore the willingness of the patient to cooperate and accept support); and 4) tolerance by the family of specific behaviors that derive from the psychiatric disorder.

The clinician should ask the older person, "If you become ill, is there a family member who will take care of you for a short period of time?" Next, the availability of family members who can care for the older adult over an extended period can be determined. If a particular member is designated as the primary caregiver, plans for respite care should be discussed. Given the increased focus on short hospital stays and the documented higher levels of impairment on discharge, the availability of family members becomes essential to the effective care of the older adult after hospitalization for a psychiatric, or combined medical and psychiatric, disorder.

What specific, tangible services can be provided to the older adult by family members? Even the most devoted spouse can be limited in the delivery of certain services because he or she may not drive a car, and therefore cannot provide transportation, or is not physically strong enough to provide certain types of nursing care. Generic services of special importance in the support of the psychiatrically impaired older adult at home include transportation; nursing services (such as administering medications at home); physical therapy; checking on or continuous supervision of the patient; homemaker and household services; meal preparation; administrative, legal, and protective services; financial assistance; living quarters; and coordination of the delivery of services. These ser-vices have been termed generic because they can be defined in terms of their activities, regardless of who provides the service. Assessing the range and extent of service delivery by the family to the functionally impaired older person provides a convenient barometer of the economic, social, and emotional burdens placed on the family.

Regardless of the level of service provided by the family to the older person, if these services are to be effective, it is beneficial for the older person to perceive that he or she lives in a supportive environment. These intangible supports include the perception of a dependable network, participation or interaction in the network, a sense of belonging to the network, intimacy with network members, and a sense of usefulness to the family (Blazer and Kaplan 1983). Usefulness may be of less importance to some older adults who believe they have contributed to the family for many years and therefore deserve reciprocal services in their waning years. Unfortunately, family members, frequently stressed across generations, may not recognize this reciprocal responsibility.

Family tolerance of specific behaviors may not correlate with overall support. Every person has a level of tolerance for specific behaviors that are especially difficult. Sanford (1975) found that the following behaviors were tolerated by families of impaired older persons (in decreasing percentages): incontinence of urine (81%), personality conflicts (54%), falls (52%), physically aggressive behavior (44%), inability to walk unaided (33%), daytime wandering (33%), and sleep disturbance (16%). This frequency may appear counterintuitive, for incontinence is generally considered particularly aversive to family members. Yet the outcome of incontinence can be corrected easily enough. A few nights of no sleep, however, can easily extend family members beyond their capabilities for serving a parent, sibling, or spouse.

Physicians and other clinicians are at times hesitant to perform a structured mental status examination, fearing the effort will insult or irritate the patient or that the patients will view it as an unnecessary waste of time. Nevertheless, the mental status examination of the psychiatric patient in later life is central to the diagnostic workup.

Appearance may be determined by the psychiatric symptoms of the older person (e.g., the depressed patient may neglect grooming), cognitive status (e.g., the patient with dementia may not be able to match clothes or even put on clothes appropriately) and the environment of the patient (e.g., a nursing home patient may not be groomed as well as a patient living at home with a spouse).

Affect and mood can usually be assessed by observing the patient during the interview. Affect is the feeling tone that accompanies the patient’s cognitive output (Linn 1980). Affect may fluctuate during the interview; however, the older person is more likely to demonstrate a constriction of affect. Mood, the state that underlies overt affect and is sustained over time, is usually apparent by the end of the interview. For example, the affect of a depressed older adult may not reach the degree of dysphoria seen in younger persons (as evidenced by crying spells or protestations of uncontrollable despair), yet the depressed mood is usually sustained and discernible from beginning to end.

Psychomotor activity may be agitated or retarded. Psychomotor retardation or underactivity is characteristic of major depression and severe schizophreniform symptoms, as well as of some variants of primary degenerative dementia. Psychiatrically impaired older persons, except some who have advanced dementia, are more likely to exhibit hyperactivity or agitation. Those who are depressed will appear uneasy, move their hands frequently, and have difficulty remaining seated through the interview. Patients with mild to moderate dementia, especially those with vascular dementia, will be easily distracted, rise from a seated position, and/or walk around the room or even out of the room. Pacing is often observed when the older adult is admitted to a hospital ward. Agitation can usually be distinguished from anxiety, for the agitated individual does not complain of a sense of impending doom or dread. In patients with psychomotor dysfunction, movement generally relieves the immediate discomfort, although it does not correct the underlying disturbance. Occasionally the older adult with motor retardation may actually be experiencing a disturbance in consciousness and may even reach an almost stuporous state. The patient may not be easily aroused, but when aroused, he or she will respond by grimacing or withdrawal.

Perception is the awareness of objects in relation to each other and follows stimulation of peripheral sense organs (Linn 1980). Disturbances of perception include hallucinations—that is, false sensory perceptions not associated with real or external stimuli. For example, a paranoid older person may perceive invasion of his or her house at night by individuals who disarrange belongings and abuse him or her sexually. Hallucinations often take the form of false auditory perceptions, false perceptions of movement or body sensation (such as palpitations), and false perceptions of smell, taste, and touch. The severely depressed older patient may have frank auditory hallucinations that condemn or encourage self-destructive behavior.

Disturbances in thought content are the most common disturbances of cognition noted in the psychotic older patient. The depressed patient often develops beliefs that are inconsistent with the objective information obtained from family members about the patient’s abilities and social resources. In a series of studies, Meyers and co-workers (Meyers and Greenberg 1986; Meyers et al. 1985) found delusional depression to be more prevalent among older depressed patients than among middle-aged adults. Of 161 patients with endogenous depression, 72 (45%) were found to be delusional as determined by the Research Diagnostic Criteria (RDC; Spitzer et al. 1978). These delusions included beliefs such as "I’ve lost my mind," "My body is disintegrating," "I have an incurable illness," and "I have caused some great harm." Even after elderly persons recover from depression, they may still experience periodic recurrences of delusional thoughts, which can be most disturbing to an otherwise rational older adult. Older patients appear less likely to experience delusional remorse, guilt, or persecution.

Even if delusions are not obvious, preoccupation with a particular thought or idea is common among depressed elderly persons. Such preoccupation is closely associated with obsessional thinking or irresistible intrusion of thoughts into the conscious mind. Although the older adult rarely acts on these thoughts compulsively, the guilt-provoking or self-accusing thoughts may occasionally become so difficult to bear that the person considers, attempts, or succeeds in committing suicide.

Disturbances of thought progression accompany disturbances of content. Evaluation of the content and process of cognition may uncover disturbances such as problems with the structure of associations, the speed of associations, and the content of thought. Thinking is a goal-directed flow of ideas, symbols, and associations initiated in response to environmental stimuli, a perceived problem, or a task that requires progression to a logical or reality-based conclusion (Linn 1980). The compulsive or schizophrenic older adult may pathologically repeat the same word or idea in response to a variety of probes, as may the patient who has primary degenerative dementia. Some older adults with dementia exhibit circumstantiality—that is, the introduction of many apparently irrelevant details to cover a lack of clarity and memory problems. Interviews with patients who have this problem can be most frustrating because they proceed at such a slow pace. On other occasions, elderly patients may appear incoherent, with no logical connection to their thoughts, or they may produce irrelevant answers. The intrusion of thoughts from previous conversations into current conversation is a prime example of the disturbance in association found in patients with primary degenerative dementia (for example, Alzheimer’s disease). This symptom is not typical of other dementias, such as the dementia of Huntington’s disease. However, in the absence of dementia, even paranoid older adults do not generally demonstrate a significant disturbance in the structure of associations.

Suicidal thoughts are critical to the assessment of the psychiatrically impaired elderly patient. Although thoughts of death are common in late life, spontaneous revelations of suicidal thoughts are rare. A stepwise probe is the best means of assessing the presence of suicidal ideation (Blazer 1982). First, the clinician should ask the patient if he or she has ever thought that life was not worth living. If so, has the patient considered acting on that thought? If so, how would the patient attempt to inflict such harm? If definite plans are revealed, the clinician should probe to determine whether the implements for a suicide attempt are available. For example, if a patient has considered shooting himself, the clinician should ask, "Do you have a gun available and loaded at home?" Suicidal ideation in an older adult is always of concern, but intervention is necessary when suicide has been considered seriously and the implements are available.

Assessment of memory and cognitive status is most accurately performed through psychological testing. However, the psychiatric interview of the older adult must include a reasonable assessment. Although older adults may not complain of memory dysfunction, they are more likely than younger patients to have problems with memory, concentration, and intellect. There are brief, informal means of testing cognitive functioning that should be included in the diagnostic workup. The clinician proceeding through an evaluation of memory and intellect must also remember that poor performance may reflect psychic distress or a lack of education, as opposed to mental retardation or dementia. In addition, to rule out the potential confounding of agitation and anxiety, testing can be performed on more than one occasion.

Testing of memory is based on three essential processes: 1) registration (the ability to record an experience in the central nervous system); 2) retention (the persistence and permanence of a registered experience); and 3) recall (the ability to summon consciously the registered experience and report it) (Linn 1980). Registration, apart from recall, is difficult to evaluate directly. Occasionally, events or information that the older adult denies remembering will appear spontaneously during other parts of the interview. Registration usually is not impaired except in patients with one of the more severely dementing illnesses.

Retention, on the other hand, can be blocked by both psychic distress and brain dysfunction. Lack of retention is especially relevant to the unimportant data often asked for on a mental status examination. For example, requesting the older adult to remember three objects for 5 minutes will frequently reveal a deficit if the older adult has little motivation to attempt the task. Disturbances of recall can be tested directly in a number of ways. The most common are tests of orientation to time, place, person, and situation. Most persons continually orient themselves through radio, television, and reading material, as well as through conversations with others. Some elderly persons may be isolated through sensory impairment or lack of social contact; poor orientation in these patients may represent deficits in the physical and social environment rather than brain dysfunction. Immediate recall can be tested by asking the older person to repeat a word, phrase, or series of numbers, but it can also be tested in conjunction with cognitive skills by requesting that a word be spelled backward or that elements of a story be recalled.

During the mental status examination, intelligence can be assessed only superficially. Tests of simple arithmetic calculation and fund of knowledge, supplemented by portions of well-known psychiatric tests, are helpful. The classic test for calculation is to ask a patient to subtract 7 from 100 and to repeat this operation on the succession of remainders. Usually five calculations are sufficient to determine the ability of the older adult to complete this task. If the older adult fails the task, a less exacting test is to request the patient to subtract 3 from 20 and to repeat this operation on the succession of remainders until 0 is reached. These examinations must not be rushed, for older persons may not perform as well when they perceive time pressure. A capacity for abstract thinking is often tested by asking the patient to interpret a well-known proverb, such as "A rolling stone gathers no moss." A more accurate test of abstraction, however, is classifying objects in a common category. For example, the elder is asked to state the similarity between an apple and a pear. Whereas naming objects from a category (such as fruits) is retained despite moderate and sometimes marked declines in cognition, the opposite process of classifying two different objects in a common category is not retained as well.

Rating scales and standardized or structured interviews have progressively been incorporated into the diagnostic assessment of the elderly psychiatric patient. Such rating procedures have increased in popularity as the need has increased for systematic, reproducible diagnoses for third-party carriers (part of the impetus for the dramatic change in nomenclature evidenced in DSM-IV) and for a standard means of assessing change in clinical status. A thorough review in this chapter of all instruments that are used is not possible. Therefore, selected instruments are presented and evaluated in this section, chosen either because they have special relevance to the geriatric patient or because they are widely used.

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Cognitive dysfunction and dementia schedules

A number of standardized assessment methods for delirium have emerged. Perhaps the best and the most easily used is the Confusion Assessment Method (CAM; Inouye 1990). This scale has incorporated DSM criteria for confusion into nine operationalized criteria, including acute onset (evidence of such onset), fluctuating course (behavior change during the day), inattention (trouble in focusing), disorganized thinking (presence of rambling or irrelevant conversations and illogical flow of ideas), and altered level of consciousness (rated from alert to comatose). Diagnosis requires both acute onset and fluctuating course, along with inattention and either disorganized thought or altered level of consciousness.

Two interviewer-administered cognitive screens for dementia have been popular in both clinical and community studies. The first is the Short Portable Mental Status Questionnaire (SPMSQ; Pfeiffer 1975), a derivative of the Mental Status Questionnaire developed by Kahn and colleagues (1960). The SPMSQ consists of 10 questions designed to assess orientation, memory, fund of knowledge, and calculation. For most community-dwelling older adults, two or fewer errors indicate intact functioning; three or four errors, mild impairment; five to seven errors, moderate impairment; and eight or more errors, severe impairment. The ease of administration of this instrument and its reliability as supported by accumulated epidemiological data make it useful for both clinical and community screens.

The Mini-Mental State Examination (Folstein et al. 1975) is a 30-item instrument that assesses orientation, registration, attention and calculation, recall, and language. It requires 5—10 minutes to administer and includes more items of clinical significance than does the SPMSQ. Seven to 12 errors suggest mild to moderate cognitive impairment and 13 or more errors severe impairment. This instrument is perhaps the most frequently used standardized screening instrument in clinical practice.

A number of clinical assessment procedures for dementia have emerged in recent years. The most widely used, and one of the first to appear, is the scale suggested by Blessed et al. (1968), usually referred to as the Blessed Dementia Index. In contrast to what can be gleaned by use of the screening scales described, clinical judgment is required in using the Blessed Dementia Index to assess changes in performance of everyday activities, such as handling money, household tasks, and shopping; changes in eating and dressing habits; changes in personality, interests, and drive; tests of information (orientation and recognition of persons); memory of past information, such as occupation, place of birth, and town where the individual worked; and concentration (calculation task). A score is assigned to each of these tasks, and a summary score is tabulated. The score has been shown to correlate well with the cerebral changes of primary degenerative dementia.

A more recent and comprehensive scale is the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale (Rosen et al. 1984). This clinical rating scale includes ratings of spoken language, language comprehension, recall, ability to follow commands, word-finding difficulty in spontaneous speech, ability to name objects, constructional praxis, ideational praxis, orientation, word recall, word recognition, and a series of noncognitive behaviors, such as tearfulness, distractibility, depression, and motor activity.

A dementia scale for assessing the probability that dementia is secondary to multiple infarcts was suggested by Hachinski et al. (1975). In the study, cerebral blood flow in patients with primary degenerative dementia was compared with those who had multi-infarct dementia. Certain clinical features were determined to be more associated with multi-infarct dementia, and each of these features was assigned a score. Those clinical features, along with their scores, are as follows: abrupt onset=2, stepwise deterioration=1, fluctuating course=2, nocturnal confusion=1, relative preservation of personality=1, depression=1, somatic complaints=1, emotional incontinence=1, history of hypertension=1, history of strokes=2, evidence of associated atherosclerosis=1, focal neurological symptoms=2, and focal neurological signs=2. A score of 7 or greater was highly suggestive of multi-infarct dementia. However, given the frequent overlap of multiple small infarcts and primary degenerative dementia, as well as the difficulty of assessing these items effectively, most investigators have ceased to rely on the Hachinski scale for clinical use.

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Depression rating scales

A number of self-rating depression scales have been used to screen for depression in patients at all stages of the life cycle; most of these scales have been studied in older populations. The Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale (Zung 1965) was the most widely used until recent years. The initial popularity of the Zung scale was probably due to the availability of data for persons throughout the life cycle, especially elderly persons (Zung 1967). Few randomly sampled community populations have been surveyed with the scale; therefore, a deficit exists in normative community standards. In this 20-item scale, each of the 20 symptoms is ranked from 0 ("none") to 3 ("all or about all the time"), according to severity. Most older adults can use the Zung scale, although the four choices may create problems for some elderly persons with mild cognitive impairment. Using the Zung scale, Freedman and colleagues (1982) found peak symptom levels in women ages 65—69 years and men ages 70—74 years.

The most widely used of the current instruments in community studies is the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D; Radloff 1977). This instrument, because of the normative population data available for it, has replaced the Zung scale in recent years as a common instrument for screening for depression. The CES-D scale is similar in format to the Zung scale. In a factor-analytic study of the CES-D in a community population, three factors were identified: enervation, positive affect, and interpersonal relationships (Ross and Mirowsky 1984). The disaggregation of these factors and the exploration of their interaction are significant steps forward in understanding the results derived from symptom scales such as the CES-D in older populations. For example, the enervation items (e.g., loss of interest, poor appetite) are more likely to be associated with a course of depressive episodes similar to that described for major depression with melancholia, and the positive-affect items more likely to be associated with life satisfaction scores.

A scale that has been widely used in clinical studies, although less studied in community populations, is the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI; Beck et al. 1961). The reliability of the BDI has been shown to be good in both depressed and nondepressed samples of older people (Gallagher et al. 1982). The instrument consists of 21 symptoms and attitudes, rated on a scale of 0 to 3 in terms of intensity. In another study by Gallagher et al. (1983), the BDI misclassified only 16.7% of subjects who had been diagnosed on the basis of the RDC as having major depression.

The Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) was developed because the scales discussed above pre-sent problems for older persons who have difficulty in selecting one of four forced-response items (Yesavage et al. 1983). The GDS is a 30-item scale that permits patients to rate items as either present or absent; it includes questions about symptoms such as cognitive complaints, self-image, and losses. Items selected were thought to have relevance to late-life depression. The GDS has not been used extensively in community populations and is not as well standardized as the CES-D, but its yes/no format is preferred to the CES-D by many clinicians.

Of the interviewer-rated scales, the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (Ham-D; Hamilton 1960) is by far the most commonly used. The advantage of having ratings based on clinical judgment has made the Ham-D a popular instrument for rating outcome in clinical trials. For example, a reduction in the score to one-half the initial score or to a score below a certain value would indicate partial or complete recovery from an episode of depression.

A scale that has received considerable attention clinically, standardized in clinical but not community populations, is the Montgomery-Åsberg Rating Scale for Depression (Montgomery and Åsberg 1979). This scale follows the pattern of the Hamilton scale and concentrates on 10 symptoms of depression; the clinician rates each symptom on a scale of 0 to 6 (for a range of scores between 0 and 60). The symptoms include apparent sadness, reported sadness, inattention, reduced sleep, reduced appetite, concentration difficulties, lassitude, inability to feel, pessimistic thoughts, and suicidal thoughts. This scale, theoretically, is an improvement over the Hamilton scale in that it appears to better differentiate between responders and nonresponders to intervention for depression. The instrument does not include many somatic symptoms that tend to be more common in older adults, and therefore it may be of greater value in tracking the symptoms of depressive illness that would be expected to change with therapy.

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General assessment scales

A number of general assessment scales of psychiatric status (occasionally combined with functioning in other areas) have been found to be useful in both community and clinical populations.

One of the more frequently used scales is the Global Assessment of Functioning Scale (GAF; American Psychiatric Association 2000). Using this scale, the rater makes a single rating, ranging from 0 to 100, that best describes—on the basis of his or her clinical judgment—the lowest level of the subject’s functioning in the week before the rating. The scale has not been standardized for older adults, but its common use in psychiatric studies suggests the need for standardization. The scale was incorporated as Axis V in DSM-IV to measure overall functioning.

The Geriatric Mental State Schedule (Copeland et al. 1976), an adaptation of the Present State Exam (PSE; Wing et al. 1974) and the Psychiatric Status Schedule (Spitzer et al. 1968), is a semistructured interviewing guide that allows the rater to inventory symptoms associated with psychiatric disorders. More than 500 ratings are made on the basis of information obtained by a highly trained interviewer, who elicits reports of symptoms from the month preceding the evaluation. Data are computerized to derive psychiatric diagnoses (Copeland et al. 1986). The instrument measures depression, impaired memory, selected neurological symptoms such as aphasia, and disorientation.

The Comprehensive Assessment and Referral Evaluation (CARE; Gurland et al. 1977) is a hybridized assessment procedure developed for older adults. Dimensional scores are obtained in Memory—Disorientation, Depression—Anxiety, Immobility—Incapacity, Isolation, Physical—Perceptual Difficulty, and Poor Housing—Income. The goal of CARE is to provide a comprehensive assessment of the older adult that bridges the professional disciplines. The instrument has not been used extensively, although it has been used in cross-national studies. For example, Herbst and Humphrey (1980) used CARE in a study examining how hearing impairment relates to mental status. The investigators found a relationship between deafness and depression that was independent of age and socioeconomic status.

The Older Americans Resources and Services (OARS) Multidimensional Functional Assessment Questionnaire (Duke University Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development 1978), administered by a lay interviewer, produces functional impairment ratings in five dimensions: mental health, physical health, social functioning, economic functioning, and activities of daily living. In one community survey using OARS (Blazer 1978a), 13% of persons in the community were found to have mental health impairment. The OARS instrument was developed to integrate functional measures across a series of parameters relevant to older adults; it has been used widely in both community and clinical surveys. With the recent emphasis on discrete psychiatric disorders, however, the instrument has not been as widely used by mental health workers as it might otherwise have been.

Any discussion of clinical rating scales is not complete without a discussion of the Abnormal Involuntary Movement Scale (AIMS; National Institute of Mental Health 1975). There has been an increased incidence of tardive dyskinesia among older adults, coupled with the need for better documentation of this dreaded outcome of prolonged use of antipsychotic agents. Regular rating of patients on the AIMS by clinicians has therefore become essential to the practice of inpatient and outpatient geriatric psychiatry. The scale consists of seven movement disorders; the presence and severity of each is rated from "none" to "severe." Three items require a global judgment: severity of abnormal movements, incapacitation due to abnormal movements, and the patient’s awareness of abnormal movements. Current problems with teeth or dentures are also assessed. Procedures are described to increase the reliability of this rating scale.

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Structured diagnostic interviews

A number of structured interview schedules are now available for both clinical and community diagnosis. These interview schedules have allowed increased reliability of the identification of particular symptoms and psychiatric diagnoses. Unfortunately, if one adheres closely to the structured interview, the richness inherent in the unstructured interview tends to be lost. Comments made by the patient during the evaluation that could be used to trace relevant associations must be ignored to push through the interview schedule. Most of these interviews require more time than the traditional unstructured first session with the patient.

The oldest of the currently used interview schedules is the Present State Exam (PSE) (Wing et al. 1974). As noted above, the Geriatric Mental State Schedule is a variant of the PSE. The PSE is not an interview but a list of definitions of behaviors or symptoms of psychiatric interest, ranging from specific delusions to general changes in affect. The clinician scores whether the symptom is present, and a computer algorithm provides a diagnosis. Suggested questions for eliciting reports of the symptoms are available but not obligatory. Only 54 questions are required during the interview, although many additional probes are provided to track positive responses. The interview schedule provides an excellent education for many psychiatrists about the meaning of various symptoms relevant to work with older adults. Nevertheless, the focus on 1 month before the evaluation date and the association of the symptoms with the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases (ICD)—instead of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)—make the PSE less popular with American investigators.

The most frequently used instrument in the United States is the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV (SCID; First et al. 1997). This instrument is easily adaptable to the RDC, DSM-IV, and DSM-IV-TR. Although specific questions are suggested for probing most areas of interest, the interviewer using the SCID has the flexibility to ask additional questions and can use any available data to assign a diagnosis. The interviewer must have clinical training but does not have to be a psychiatrist. Many of the symptoms may not be relevant to older adults (especially the extensive probes for psychotic symptoms), and the interview frequently takes 2½—3 hours to administer. Nevertheless, the experience gained by the clinician in using this instrument can contribute to a more effective clinical practice.

A relatively recent addition to the schedules available is the Diagnostic Interview Schedule (DIS; Robins et al. 1981). This highly structured, computer-scored interview, which can be administered by a lay interviewer, allows psychiatric diagnoses to be made according to DSM-IV criteria, Feighner criteria (Feighner et al. 1972), and RDC. The DIS questions probe for the presence or absence of symptoms or behaviors relevant to a series of psychiatric disorders, the severity of the symptoms, and the putative cause of the symptoms. Diagnoses of cognitive impairment, schizophrenia or schizophreniform disorder, major depression, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, agoraphobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, dysthymic disorder, somatization disorder, alcohol abuse and/or dependence, and other substance abuse and/or dependence can be made from Axis I of DSM-IV. A diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder (Axis II) can also be made. The instrument has proved reasonably reliable in clinic populations for both current and lifetime diagnoses.

The range of disorders probed by the DIS questions, coupled with the instrument’s relative ease of administration (it generally takes 45—90 minutes to administer to an older adult), has made it popular for use in clinical studies. In addition, community-based comparative data are available on a large sample from the Epidemiologic Catchment Area study (Myers et al. 1984; Regier et al. 1984). The DIS can be supplemented with additional questions to probe for specific symptoms, such as melancholic symptoms and additional data on sleep disorders for depressed older adults. No problems have arisen when the instrument is used among older adults in the community. The memory decay that occurs in elderly persons in general is no more of a problem with this instrument than with others. Nevertheless, the DIS is of less value in the study of institutional populations and in reconstruction of lifetime history regardless of setting, because memory problems cannot be circumvented by clinical judgment. Supplementary data can be added to the instrument for developing a standardized diagnosis. A shortened version of the DIS, which has been used in recent epidemiological surveys, is the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI; World Health Organization 1989).

The clinician who works with the older adult should be cognizant of factors relating to both the patient and the clinician that may produce barriers to effective communication (Blazer 1978b). Many older persons experience a relatively high level of anxiety yet do not complain of this symptom. Stress deriving from a new situation, such as visiting a clinician’s office or being interviewed in a hospital, may intensify such anxiety and subsequently impair effective communication. Perceptual problems, such as hearing and visual impairment, may exacerbate disorientation and complicate the communication of problems to the clinician. Elderly persons are more likely to withhold information than to hazard answers that may be incorrect—in other words, older persons tend to be more cautious. Elderly persons frequently take longer to respond to inquiries and resist the clinician who attempts to rush through the history-taking interview.

The elderly patient may perceive the physician unrealistically, on the basis of previous life experiences (that is, transference may occur). Although the older patient will sometimes accept the role of child, viewing the physician as parent, the patient is initially more likely to view the clinician as the idealized child who can provide reciprocal care to the previously capable but now impaired parent. Splitting between the physician and the children of the patient may subsequently occur. The clinician may perceive the older adult patient incorrectly because of fears of aging and death or because of previous negative experiences with his or her own parents. For a clinician to work effectively with older adults, these personal feelings should be discussed during training—and afterward.

Once physician and patient attitudes have been recognized and acknowledged, certain techniques have generally proved to be valuable in communicating with the elderly patient. These techniques should not be implemented indiscriminately, however, for the variation among the population of older adults is significant. First, the older person should be approached with respect. The clinician should knock before entering a patient’s room and should greet the patient by surname (Mr. Jones, Mrs. Smith) rather than by a given name, unless the clinician also wishes to be addressed by a given name.

After taking a position near the older person—near enough to reach out and touch the patient—the clinician should speak clearly and slowly and use simple sentences in case the person’s hearing is impaired. Because of hearing problems, older patients may understand conversation better over the telephone than in person. By placing the receiver against the mastoid bone, the patient with otosclerosis can take advantage of preserved bone conduction.

The interview should be paced so that the older person has enough time to respond to questions. Most elders are not uncomfortable with silence, because it gives them an opportunity to formulate their answers to questions and elaborate certain points they wish to emphasize. Nonverbal communication is frequently a key to effective communication with elderly persons, because they may be reticent about revealing affect verbally. The patient’s changes in facial expression, gestures, postures, and long silences may provide clues to the clinician about issues that are unspoken.

One key to successful communication with an older adult is a willingness to continue working as a professional with that person. Older adults—possibly unlike some of their children and grandchildren—place a great deal of stress on loyalty and continuity. Most elderly patients do not require large amounts of time from clinicians, and those who are more demanding can usually be controlled through structure in the interview.

 
Anchor for JumpAnchor for Jump
Table 1. Diagnostic Workup of the Elderly Patient
American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition. Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Association,  1994
 
American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition, Text Revision. Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Association,  2000
 
Ayd FJ: Treatment-resistant patients: a moral, legal and therapeutic challenge, in Rational Psychopharmacotherapy and the Right to Treatment. Edited by Ayd FJ. Baltimore, MD, Ayd Medical Communications,  1975
 
Beck AT, Ward CH, Mendelson M, et al: An inventory for measuring depression. Arch Gen Psychiatry 4:561—571,  1961
 
Blazer DG: The OARS Durham surveys: description and application, in Multidimensional Functional Assessment: The OARS Methodology—A Manual, 2nd Edition. Durham, NC, Duke University Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development,  1978a, pp 75—88
 
Blazer DG: Techniques for communicating with your elderly patient. Geriatrics 33:79—80, 83—84,  1978b
 
Blazer DG: Depression in Late Life. St Louis, MO, CV Mosby,  1982
 
Blazer DG: Evaluating the family of the elderly patient, in A Family Approach to Health Care in the Elderly. Edited by Blazer D, Siegler IC. Menlo Park, CA, Addison-Wesley,  1984, pp 13—32
 
Blazer DG, Kaplan BH: The assessment of social support in an elderly community population. Am J Soc Psychiatry 3:29—36,  1983
 
Blessed G, Tomlinson BE, Roth M: The association between quantitative measures of dementia and of senile change in the cerebral gray matter of elderly subjects. Br J Psychiatry 114:797—811,  1968
 
Copeland JRM, Kelleher MJ, Kellet JM, et al: A semi-structured clinical interview for the assessment and diagnosis of mental state in the elderly: the Geriatric Mental State Schedule. Psychol Med 6:439—449,  1976
 
Copeland JRM, Dewey ME, Griffiths-Jones HM, et al: A computerized psychiatric diagnostic system and case nomenclature for elderly subjects: GMS and AGECAT. Psychol Med 16:89—99,  1986
 
Duke University Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development: Multidimensional Functional Assessment: The OARS Methodology—A Manual, 2nd Edition. Durham, NC, Duke University Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development,  1978
 
Eisenberg L: Disease and illness: distinctions between professional and popular ideas of sickness. Cult Med Psychiatry 1:9—23,  1977
 
Eisenberg L, Kleinman A: Clinical social science, in The Relevance of Social Science for Medicine. Edited by Eisenberg L, Kleinman A. Boston, MA, D Reidel,  1981, pp 1—26
 
Feighner JP, Robins E, Guze SB, et al: Diagnostic criteria for use in psychiatric research. Arch Gen Psychiatry 26:57—63,  1972
 
First MB, Spitzer RL, Gibbon M: Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV. Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Press,  1997
 
Folstein MF, Folstein SE, McHugh PR: Mini-Mental State: a practical method for grading the cognitive state of patients for the clinician. J Psychiatr Res 12:189—198,  1975
 
Freedman N, Bucci W, Elkowitz E: Depression in a family practice elderly population. J Am Geriatr Soc 30:372—377,  1982
 
Gallagher D, Nies G, Thompson LW: Reliability of the Beck Depression Inventory with older adults. J Consult Clin Psychol 50:152—153,  1982
 
Gallagher D, Breckenridge J, Steinmetz J, et al: The Beck Depression Inventory and Research Diagnostic Criteria: congruence in an older population. J Consult Clin Psychol 51:945—946,  1983
 
Gurland B, Kuriansky J, Sharpe L, et al: The Comprehensive Assessment and Referral Evaluation (CARE)—rationale, development and reliability. Int J Aging Hum Dev 8:9—42,  1977
 
Hachinski VC, Iliff LD, Zilhka E, et al: Cerebral blood flow in dementia. Arch Neurol 32:632—637,  1975
 
Hamilton M: A rating scale for depression. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 23:56—62,  1960
 
Herbst KG, Humphrey C: Hearing impairment and mental state in the elderly living at home. BMJ 281:903—905,  1980
 
Inouye SK: Clarifying confusion: the confusion assessment method: a new method for detection of delirium. Ann Intern Med 113:941—950,  1990
 
Kahn RL, Goldfarb AI, Pollack M, et al: Brief objective measures for the determination of mental status in the aged. Am J Psychiatry 117:326—328,  1960
 
Linn L: Clinical manifestations of psychiatric disorders, in Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry, 3rd Edition, Vol 1. Edited by Kaplan HI, Freedman AM, Sadock BJ. Baltimore, MD, Williams and Wilkins,  1980, pp 990—1034
 
Mendlewicz J, Fleiss JL, Cataldo M, et al: Accuracy of the family history method in affective illness: comparison with direct interviews in family studies. Arch Gen Psychiatry 32:309—314,  1975
 
Meyers BS, Greenberg R: Late-life delusional depression. J Affect Disord 11:133—137,  1986
 
Meyers BS, Greenberg R, Varda M: Delusional depression in the elderly, in Treatment of Affective Disorders in the Elderly. Edited by Shamoian CA. Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Press,  1985, pp 37—63
 
Miller KT, Miller JL: The family as a system. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Psychiatrists, New York,  February 1979
 
Montgomery SA, Åsberg M: A new depression scale designed to be sensitive to change. Br J Psychiatry 134:382—389,  1979
 
Myers JK, Weissman MM, Tischler GL, et al: Six-month prevalence of psychiatric disorders in three communities: 1980 to 1982. Arch Gen Psychiatry 41:959—967,  1984
 
National Institute of Mental Health: Development of a Dyskinetic Movement Scale (Publ No 4). Rockville, MD, National Institute of Mental Health, Psychopharmacology Research Branch,  1975
 
Pfeiffer E: A Short Portable Mental Status Questionnaire for the assessment of organic brain deficit in elderly patients. J Am Geriatr Soc 23:433—441,  1975
 
Radloff LS: The CES-D Scale: a self-report depression scale for research in the general population. Applied Psychological Measurement 1:385—401,  1977
 
Regier DA, Myers JK, Kramer M, et al: The NIMH Epidemiologic Catchment Area program: historical context, major objectives, and study population characteristics. Arch Gen Psychiatry 41:934—941,  1984
 
Robins LN, Helzer JE, Croughan J, et al: National Institute of Mental Health Diagnostic Interview Schedule: its history, characteristics, and validity. Arch Gen Psychiatry 38:381—389,  1981
 
Rosen WG, Mohs RC, Davis KL: A new rating scale for Alzheimer’s disease. Am J Psychiatry 141:1356—1362,  1984
 
Ross CE, Mirowsky J: Components of depressed mood in married men and women: the CES-D. Am J Epidemiol 119:997—1004,  1984
 
Sanford JRA: Tolerance of debility in elderly dependents by supporters at home: its significance for hospital practice. BMJ 3:471—473,  1975
 
Spitzer RL, Endicott J, Cohen GM: Psychiatric Status Schedule, 2nd Edition. New York, New York State Department of Mental Hygiene, Evaluation Unit, Biometrics Research,  1968
 
Spitzer RL, Endicott J, Robins E: Research Diagnostic Criteria: rationale and reliability. Arch Gen Psychiatry 35:773—782,  1978
 
Wing JK, Cooper JE, Sartorius N: The Measurement and Classification of Psychiatric Symptoms. London, Cambridge University Press,  1974
 
World Health Organization: Composite International Diagnostic Interview. Geneva, Switzerland, World Health Organization,  1989
 
Yesavage JA, Brink TL, Rose TL, et al: Development and validation of a geriatric depression screening scale: a preliminary report. J Psychiatr Res 17:37—49,  1983
 
Zung WWK: A self-rating depression scale. Arch Gen Psychiatry 12:63—70,  1965
 
Zung WWK: Depression in the normal aged. Psychosomatics 8:287—292,  1967
 
Anchor for JumpAnchor for Jump
Table 1. Diagnostic Workup of the Elderly Patient
+

References

American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition. Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Association,  1994
 
American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition, Text Revision. Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Association,  2000
 
Ayd FJ: Treatment-resistant patients: a moral, legal and therapeutic challenge, in Rational Psychopharmacotherapy and the Right to Treatment. Edited by Ayd FJ. Baltimore, MD, Ayd Medical Communications,  1975
 
Beck AT, Ward CH, Mendelson M, et al: An inventory for measuring depression. Arch Gen Psychiatry 4:561—571,  1961
 
Blazer DG: The OARS Durham surveys: description and application, in Multidimensional Functional Assessment: The OARS Methodology—A Manual, 2nd Edition. Durham, NC, Duke University Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development,  1978a, pp 75—88
 
Blazer DG: Techniques for communicating with your elderly patient. Geriatrics 33:79—80, 83—84,  1978b
 
Blazer DG: Depression in Late Life. St Louis, MO, CV Mosby,  1982
 
Blazer DG: Evaluating the family of the elderly patient, in A Family Approach to Health Care in the Elderly. Edited by Blazer D, Siegler IC. Menlo Park, CA, Addison-Wesley,  1984, pp 13—32
 
Blazer DG, Kaplan BH: The assessment of social support in an elderly community population. Am J Soc Psychiatry 3:29—36,  1983
 
Blessed G, Tomlinson BE, Roth M: The association between quantitative measures of dementia and of senile change in the cerebral gray matter of elderly subjects. Br J Psychiatry 114:797—811,  1968
 
Copeland JRM, Kelleher MJ, Kellet JM, et al: A semi-structured clinical interview for the assessment and diagnosis of mental state in the elderly: the Geriatric Mental State Schedule. Psychol Med 6:439—449,  1976
 
Copeland JRM, Dewey ME, Griffiths-Jones HM, et al: A computerized psychiatric diagnostic system and case nomenclature for elderly subjects: GMS and AGECAT. Psychol Med 16:89—99,  1986
 
Duke University Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development: Multidimensional Functional Assessment: The OARS Methodology—A Manual, 2nd Edition. Durham, NC, Duke University Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development,  1978
 
Eisenberg L: Disease and illness: distinctions between professional and popular ideas of sickness. Cult Med Psychiatry 1:9—23,  1977
 
Eisenberg L, Kleinman A: Clinical social science, in The Relevance of Social Science for Medicine. Edited by Eisenberg L, Kleinman A. Boston, MA, D Reidel,  1981, pp 1—26
 
Feighner JP, Robins E, Guze SB, et al: Diagnostic criteria for use in psychiatric research. Arch Gen Psychiatry 26:57—63,  1972
 
First MB, Spitzer RL, Gibbon M: Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV. Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Press,  1997
 
Folstein MF, Folstein SE, McHugh PR: Mini-Mental State: a practical method for grading the cognitive state of patients for the clinician. J Psychiatr Res 12:189—198,  1975
 
Freedman N, Bucci W, Elkowitz E: Depression in a family practice elderly population. J Am Geriatr Soc 30:372—377,  1982
 
Gallagher D, Nies G, Thompson LW: Reliability of the Beck Depression Inventory with older adults. J Consult Clin Psychol 50:152—153,  1982
 
Gallagher D, Breckenridge J, Steinmetz J, et al: The Beck Depression Inventory and Research Diagnostic Criteria: congruence in an older population. J Consult Clin Psychol 51:945—946,  1983
 
Gurland B, Kuriansky J, Sharpe L, et al: The Comprehensive Assessment and Referral Evaluation (CARE)—rationale, development and reliability. Int J Aging Hum Dev 8:9—42,  1977
 
Hachinski VC, Iliff LD, Zilhka E, et al: Cerebral blood flow in dementia. Arch Neurol 32:632—637,  1975
 
Hamilton M: A rating scale for depression. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 23:56—62,  1960
 
Herbst KG, Humphrey C: Hearing impairment and mental state in the elderly living at home. BMJ 281:903—905,  1980
 
Inouye SK: Clarifying confusion: the confusion assessment method: a new method for detection of delirium. Ann Intern Med 113:941—950,  1990
 
Kahn RL, Goldfarb AI, Pollack M, et al: Brief objective measures for the determination of mental status in the aged. Am J Psychiatry 117:326—328,  1960
 
Linn L: Clinical manifestations of psychiatric disorders, in Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry, 3rd Edition, Vol 1. Edited by Kaplan HI, Freedman AM, Sadock BJ. Baltimore, MD, Williams and Wilkins,  1980, pp 990—1034
 
Mendlewicz J, Fleiss JL, Cataldo M, et al: Accuracy of the family history method in affective illness: comparison with direct interviews in family studies. Arch Gen Psychiatry 32:309—314,  1975
 
Meyers BS, Greenberg R: Late-life delusional depression. J Affect Disord 11:133—137,  1986
 
Meyers BS, Greenberg R, Varda M: Delusional depression in the elderly, in Treatment of Affective Disorders in the Elderly. Edited by Shamoian CA. Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Press,  1985, pp 37—63
 
Miller KT, Miller JL: The family as a system. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Psychiatrists, New York,  February 1979
 
Montgomery SA, Åsberg M: A new depression scale designed to be sensitive to change. Br J Psychiatry 134:382—389,  1979
 
Myers JK, Weissman MM, Tischler GL, et al: Six-month prevalence of psychiatric disorders in three communities: 1980 to 1982. Arch Gen Psychiatry 41:959—967,  1984
 
National Institute of Mental Health: Development of a Dyskinetic Movement Scale (Publ No 4). Rockville, MD, National Institute of Mental Health, Psychopharmacology Research Branch,  1975
 
Pfeiffer E: A Short Portable Mental Status Questionnaire for the assessment of organic brain deficit in elderly patients. J Am Geriatr Soc 23:433—441,  1975
 
Radloff LS: The CES-D Scale: a self-report depression scale for research in the general population. Applied Psychological Measurement 1:385—401,  1977
 
Regier DA, Myers JK, Kramer M, et al: The NIMH Epidemiologic Catchment Area program: historical context, major objectives, and study population characteristics. Arch Gen Psychiatry 41:934—941,  1984
 
Robins LN, Helzer JE, Croughan J, et al: National Institute of Mental Health Diagnostic Interview Schedule: its history, characteristics, and validity. Arch Gen Psychiatry 38:381—389,  1981
 
Rosen WG, Mohs RC, Davis KL: A new rating scale for Alzheimer’s disease. Am J Psychiatry 141:1356—1362,  1984
 
Ross CE, Mirowsky J: Components of depressed mood in married men and women: the CES-D. Am J Epidemiol 119:997—1004,  1984
 
Sanford JRA: Tolerance of debility in elderly dependents by supporters at home: its significance for hospital practice. BMJ 3:471—473,  1975
 
Spitzer RL, Endicott J, Cohen GM: Psychiatric Status Schedule, 2nd Edition. New York, New York State Department of Mental Hygiene, Evaluation Unit, Biometrics Research,  1968
 
Spitzer RL, Endicott J, Robins E: Research Diagnostic Criteria: rationale and reliability. Arch Gen Psychiatry 35:773—782,  1978
 
Wing JK, Cooper JE, Sartorius N: The Measurement and Classification of Psychiatric Symptoms. London, Cambridge University Press,  1974
 
World Health Organization: Composite International Diagnostic Interview. Geneva, Switzerland, World Health Organization,  1989
 
Yesavage JA, Brink TL, Rose TL, et al: Development and validation of a geriatric depression screening scale: a preliminary report. J Psychiatr Res 17:37—49,  1983
 
Zung WWK: A self-rating depression scale. Arch Gen Psychiatry 12:63—70,  1965
 
Zung WWK: Depression in the normal aged. Psychosomatics 8:287—292,  1967
 
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