Early diagnosis of mental disorders vital, expert says

Islands, Normal

The National, Tuesday October 15th, 2013

 EARLY recognition, diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders common in old age are important to prevent sufferings and disabilities, a medical physician said.

Dr Georgen Periwa, from the Nonga Base Hospital, in East New Britain, was speaking during an awareness to mark World Mental Health Day at the Kerevat Correctional Service institution.

“Many times people in the rural areas do not properly identify mental disorders and quickly assume the concerned person has memory loss due to old age without realising that such people can be helped and taken to the hospital to be treated and live a normal life,” he said.

Periwa said it was important to understand the symptoms and signs of mental disorders like dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, depression and anxiety so patients could be treated early by trained nurses.

“The promotion of healthy aging in all its aspects is an important role for all societies and the mental health issue is not only a public health issue to be addressed by medical officers but needed a holistic approach from the community,” he said.

“Therefore all adults with mental illness require sensitivity, observational and relational skills in order to help older persons achieve and maintain the highest possible level of function and wellbeing.

“Those who care for older persons should be protected and supported to better contribute to tackling mental health in old age.

“In PNG we take care of our old people well and this is a bonus to the Melanesian community.

“Nowadays due to good food and health, people live beyond 60 years, which is why the Government increased the retirement age for workers from 60 to 65.”