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Soc Sci Med. 1995 Oct;41(7):983-1003.

Elderly mental health in the developing world.

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Department of Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Growing numbers of elderly in countries of the developing world presage an increase in those affected by organic, age-related mental diseases such as dementia. A simultaneous rise in the burden of non-organic mental disorders in elderly populations is likely because stressors in many countries are affecting the mental health of the elderly directly and/or indirectly by altering the ability of families to provide care for them. This paper reviews studies on the disease burden of mental health problems of the aged in the developing world. It examines evidence on how demographic change, economic change, education, urbanization, war and displacement, and widowhood influence elderly mental health. A look at policies and programs improving the condition of elderly mentally ill throughout the developing world emphasizes positive options for policymakers. Recommendations for future research both identify areas in which investigation would be particularly useful and highlight current methodological problems.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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