Important to intercept mental ill-health in elderly men to prevent suicide
Elderly men are over-represented in suicide statistics, but despite this they seldom seek help for mental ill-health. Researchers at MDH, together with Karolinska Institutet, have made a study on mental ill-health in elderly men and have concluded that nurses in primary care play a key role in identifying mental ill-health among elderly men. To prevent suicide requires close cooperation among professionals and with the patients’ relatives.
The aging population is growing in Sweden, at the same time as life expectancy is increasing. Elderly men constitute a risk factor for mental ill-health, and elderly men in particular are over-represented in suicide statistics.
Birgitta Kerstis and Lena Marmstål Hammar, both senior lecturers in Caring Sciences at MDH, have carried out a study together with Jenny Karlsson, specialist nurse in psychiatric care at Karolinska Institutet. The study describes nurses’ experience of identifying mental ill-health among elderly men in primary care. A questionnaire with five open questions was answered by 39 nurses from 10 primary care units, and the results have been analysed.
– When elderly men seek primary care it is often on account of somatic symptoms, such as a sore or a blood pressure test – seldom for mental problems. Neither is it unusual that elderly men themselves fail to make the connection that the physical symptoms are related to their mental state of health and/or their life situation, says Birgitta Kerstis, Lena Marmstål Hammar and Jenny Karlsson.
The results of the study confirm that nurses in primary care play a key role in identifying mental ill-health among elderly men. The study also shows that there is a clear need of resources in the form of time, competence, continuity and cooperation with other professionals, as well as with the patients’ relatives.
– Here nurses in primary care have an important role in helping the men to formulate their mental state of health and to develop healthcare to improve elderly men’s mental health and thereby reduce the risk of suicide.
Health and wellbeing
At MDH research is carried out that is linked to all the UN’s global goals for sustainability. This study has a direct link to goal number 3, concerning health and wellbeing.