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Programs

Geriatric Mental Health Foundation’s Symposium and Reception with Shelley Fabares
Television and movie actress Shelley Fabares will speak at the Geriatric Mental Health Foundation’s evening session, “One Family’s Struggle with Alzheimer’s,” on Sunday, March 12. The session will be held as part of the 2006 Annual Meeting of the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry. Fabares, whose mother developed Alzheimer’s disease, will discuss her role as primary caregiver and her family’s experiences. The actress played Donna Reed’s daughter on “The Donna Reed Show,” and went on to star in three movies with Elvis Presley, and later in the Emmy Award winning sitcom “Coach” with Craig T. Nelson. She was also a top recording artist with the hit single “Johnny Angel.” Off-camera, Fabares has advocated on behalf of families with Alzheimer’s disease, and served on the national board of the Alzheimer’s Association and testified before congressional committees on the need for increased funding for Alzheimer’s research. (For more information, visit www.aagpmeeting.org/highlights.html or e-mail cpaschal@gmhfonline.org.)

2006 Symposium to Address Mental Health Needs of Older Latinos
The Geriatric Mental Health Foundation will sponsor a session titled, “Mental Health of Older Latinos: Issues of Cultural Competency for the Geriatric Psychiatrist” at the 2006 Annual Meeting of the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry. The session, designed to help clinicians understand how older Latinos express and interpret their symptoms of mental illness, will be co-chaired by Foundation Chair Gary Kennedy, M.D., and Vice-Chair Martha Bruce, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Latinos, which now constitute the largest ethnic group in the United States and the fastest growing segment of the U.S. older adult population, face significant hurtles obtaining mental health care. Older Latinos are less likely to receive mental health care services than non-Hispanics. Barriers to quality care include the difficulty accessing Spanish-speaking health professionals and cultural differences in expressing symptoms and preferences for treatment.

Geriatric Mental Health Foundation Consumer Forum
The Foundation co-sponsored a consumer forum in downtown San Diego in March 2005 in conjunction with the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry’s Annual Meeting. This Forum, which was designated as an official White House Conference on Aging event, focused on the barriers faced by older adult mental health consumers in obtaining quality mental health care and solutions to those barriers. More than 100 consumers and providers discussed access to care, stigma associated with mental illness, discrimination, and caregiving, among other issues. Recommendations from the Forum were presented to the White House Conference on Aging.

Author David Shenk Featured Speaker of 2005 Foundation Symposium
During a Foundation-sponsored symposium in March 2005, author David Shenk discussed how his interest in Alzheimer’s disease led him to write The Forgetting: A Portrait of Alzheimer's Disease. Following the talk, held in conjunction with the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry’s 2005 Annual Meeting in San Diego, a reception and book signing was held for attendees.

New Depression Materials for Consumers
A Guide to Mental Illness in Older Age: Recognizing and Overcoming Depression was published by the Foundation and is available through this website. This consumer tool is intended as a recovery kit to assist consumers with identification, treatment, and payment for mental health services associated with late-life depression.

Upcoming Brochures for Consumers
The following brochures will be available on the Foundation’s website in late 2005 and 2006:

A Guide to Healthy Aging will focus on maintaining mental health in older age and will identify preventive tips, risk factors, warning signs, and resources.

A Guide to Alcohol and Drug Abuse and Misuse will help families and caregivers recognize the signs of alcohol and/or prescription drug abuse in the elderly.

A Guide to Quality Care and Selecting Nursing Homes will be a resource for caregivers and families of consumers, providing them with the tools they need to make an educated choice in selecting a nursing home.

Roundtables on a National Initiative To Eliminate the Stigmas of Mental Illness and Aging
The Foundation worked with the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and hosted two roundtable discussions in 2003 and 2004 on stigma associated with geriatric mental health. A diverse group of participants—including consumers, advocates, health care providers, media representatives, and researchers—convened to formulate a national strategy focused on public information, media messages, provider education, and consumer empowerment.