Geriatric Behavioral Health is a field of medicine dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders in older adults. These disorders include dementia, depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, and late-life schizophrenia. Geriatric psychiatrists and psychologists have specialized training in the special physical, emotional, and social needs of older patients that allows for a comprehensive approach to diagnosis and treatment. Such care includes listening and responding to the concerns of the older adult, helping families, and when necessary, working with other health care professionals to develop effective approaches to treatment. Co-existing medical illnesses, medications, family issues, social concerns, and environmental issues are integrated into a comprehensive program of care.
In addition to providing clinical care, Duke geriatric psychiatrists and psychologists are actively involved in research of mental disorders of older adults. This research covers a broad range and includes clinical trials of new medications for mood disorders and dementia, understanding the role of psychotherapy in geriatric depression, neuroimaging findings in mood and cognitive disorders, the importance of religion in mental health, and medical and cognitive consequences of mood disorders.
The Division of Geriatric Behavioral Health also has an educational mission. The Geriatric Psychiatry Fellowship Program trains physicians who have completed general psychiatry training and wish to specialize in geriatric psychiatry. Faculty in the Division also train general residents, psychology interns and medical students at Duke. Equally important are the educational programs provided by Division Faculty for non-psychiatric physicians and other health providers in the community as well as for the general public.
The Geriatric Behavioral Health Division includes several research programs:
The Division is also affiliated with the following programs:
To view a list of active clinical research studies, please visit DukeHealth.org/clinicaltrials.
Duke offers a variety of geriatric mental health clinics and services.
The Office of the Division of Geriatric Behavioral Health is located in Duke South Hospital, Room 3547 Blue Zone. The Division Project Coordinator, Mae Burks, can be reached at 919-668-2572.