Foothill CollegeApproved Course Outlines

Business and Social Sciences Division
GERN 11PSYCHOLOGY OF AGINGSummer 2013
3 hours lecture.3 Units

Total Quarter Learning Hours: 36 (Total of All Lecture, Lecture/Lab, and Lab hours X 12)
 
 Lecture Hours: 3 Lab Hours: Lecture/Lab:
 Note: If Lab hours are specified, see item 10. Lab Content below.

Repeatability -
Statement: Not Repeatable.

Status -
 Course Status: ActiveGrading: Letter Grade Only
 Degree Status: ApplicableCredit Status: Credit
 Degree or Certificate Requirement: AA Degree,   Certificate of Achievement
 GE Status: Non-GE

Articulation Office Information -
 Transferability: BothValidation: 11/19/12

1. Description -
An introduction to normal emotional and psychological changes that typically occur in later life, including discussion of common mental health problems that elders can experience: how to recognize them, and what to do to assist the individual and the family. Ethnic and cultural differences in presentation, evaluation, and treatment of mental health problems in various culturally diverse groups will be highlighted.
Prerequisite: None
Co-requisite: None
Advisory: Not open to students with credit in GERN 51.

2. Course Objectives -
The student will be able to:
  1. List normal emotional and psychological changes that occur later in life.
  2. Describe the 3 common mental health problems of later life: depression, anxiety, and reactions to bereavement/loss
  3. Describe less common mental health problems including: substance abuse, chronic mental illness, and personality disorders
  4. Describe related symptoms, such as sleep disturbances and caregiver stress, which often occur in older persons without a significant mental disorder
  5. Demonstrate knowledge of common assessment tools to help identify these conditions
  6. Describe at least 3 evidence-based approaches to assist elders and their families in coping with mental health changes of later life
  7. Describe current limitations on access to mental health care based on insurance coverage (e.g., limited in Medicare, MediCal and Medicaid) and on health disparities, which are particularly important issues for ethnic minority elders
3. Special Facilities and/or Equipment -
Multi Media

4. Course Content (Body of knowledge) -
  1. Normal emotional and psychological changes that occur in later life:
    1. Significant losses are common and include: losing one's ability to engage in hobbies and enjoyable activities, financial constraints, loss of work role through retirement, etc.
    2. Family constellation and social support networks also change: friends move away, adult children become engaged in other activities (e.g., raising their own families), close relatives pass on. These changes can tax the coping resources of even the most resilient of older adults.
    3. Cognitive processing typically slows down: it is harder to learn new information; memory problems are common; and assistance may be needed with financial management for the first time in one's life.
    4. Negative changes in health are also common: development of new diseases (e.g., many forms of cancer are age-related); worsening of chronic conditions such as hypertension or osteoporosis; greater susceptibility to infections, etc.
  2. Describe the 3 common mental health problems of later life: depression, anxiety, and reactions to bereavement/loss
    1. Depression: chronic vs. new onset; depressive symptoms vs. depression as a psychiatric disorder; other presentations of depression besides "blue mood" that are recognized to be common in older adults
    2. Anxiety: generalized anxiety disorder; specific phobias; post-traumatic stress disorders; and anxiety associated with depression
    3. Reactions to bereavement/loss: "normal" course of grief; what are the signs of abnormal or complicated grief? Importance of continuing bonds
  3. Describe less common mental health problems including: substance abuse, chronic mental illness, and personality disorders
    1. Substance abuse: mostly seen in non-intentional misuse of medications, both prescribed and over-the-counter; sometimes illegal drug use occurs; alcohol problems are increasing in older adults but are difficult to detect
    2. Chronic mental illness: some individuals go into later life having a history of chronic mental illness, such as bipoloar disorder; they face unique problems
    3. Personality disorders: often are diagnosed earlier in life and remain with the individual into old age. The most common ones will be discussed.
  4. Describe related symptoms, such as sleep disturbances and caregiver stress, which often occur in older persons without a significant mental disorder:
    1. Sleep disturbances: chronic insomnia, problems with frequent awakening during the night, and sleep apnea will be discussed.
    2. Caregiver stress is common among older adults who provide significant hands-on care to a relative (typically their spouse) with significant mental and/or physical health problems (e.g., Alzheimer's disease, stroke. etc.)
  5. Demonstrate knowledge of common assessment tools to help identify these conditions:
    1. There are a number of easy to administer measures to asses the problems noted, such as: Geriatric Depression Scale, Mini Mental Status Examination, and Geriatric Anxiety Scale. Those that can be administered, scored and interpreted by non-mental health professionals will be covered in this class. Information about when to refer for a more detailed assessment, and who to refer to, will also be provided.
  6. Describe at least 3 evidence-based approaches to assist elders and their families in coping with mental health changes of later life:
    1. The most commonly used method of intervention to help older adults, that has a strong evidence base based on hundreds of studies with large numbers of participants is called Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). Basics of CBT will be discussed.
  7. Describe current limitations on access to mental health care based on insurance coverage (e.g., limited in Medicare, MediCal and Medicaid) and on health disparities, which are particularly important issues for ethnic minority elders:
    1. Currently available insurance plans are highly restrictive as to what they will pay for mental health care, even when a formal psychiatric diagnosis has been made. Reasons for this will be examined.
    2. This is a very significant problem for ethnic minority elders, many of whom do not have any insurance. Reasons for this will be examined.
    3. There are significant access issues as well for ethnic minority elders who often do not have access to regular medical care, much less mental health care. Barriers will be discussed, along with suggestions for resolution.
5. Repeatability - Moved to header area.
 
6. Methods of Evaluation -
  1. Complete readings before each class session and participate in discussions.
  2. Perform at a passing level on tests and quizzes to measure achievement of course objectives.
  3. Complete an individual project determined in consultation with instructor.
7. Representative Text(s) -
Hoyer & Roodin, Adult Development and Aging, McGraw Hill. 2009.
Any text will need to be supplemented with additional readings/materials that will be provided by the instructor.

8. Disciplines -
Gerontology
Sociology
Psychology
 
9. Method of Instruction -
Lecture
Multi Media
Community based field project
 
10. Lab Content -
Not Applicable.
 
11. Honors Description - No longer used. Integrated into main description section.
 
12. Types and/or Examples of Required Reading, Writing and Outside of Class Assignments -
  1. Weekly reading assignments from text, averaging 25 pages.
  2. Read, interpret, and evaluate chapter review questions for a more in-depth study and class discussion.
  3. Self-reflect and document personal prejudices/biases relating to elders and aging
  4. Research, interview, document and present final paper identifying three elders' current developmental stages
13. Need/Justification -
This course is a restricted support course for the AA degree in Adaptive Fitness Therapy.




Course status: Active
Last updated: 2014-03-12 11:47:07


Foothill CollegeApproved Course Outlines