Old Age Psychiatry

Old Age Psychiatry

The Specialty

Old Age Psychiatry is a rapidly growing specialty within Psychiatry. Briefly, it is the application of good general Psychiatry to the population aged over 65, providing a community based assessment, treatment and continuing care. Service to all elderly people suffering from organic illness, i.e. dementias of various types of functional illness, i.e. depression, schizophrenia etc.

Specialty Attractions

The attraction of the specialty is the complexity of cases, i.e. psychiatric conditions modified by physical illness and organic mental changes and the coexistence of organic and functional illness.

Particular attractions of Old Age Psychiatry include the close working relationship with Primary Care and other agencies such as Social Services; the need to understand the effect of coexistence physical illness; and the fact that much of the work is in the community, working with patients and their families over a long period of time.

On-call duties are usually on a one-in-seven rota or less frequently and are not often onerous. Opportunities for private practice vary according to the area, but are generally growing with the increase in numbers of people with private insurance.

Personal qualities should include:

  • An interest in both medicine and psychiatry
  • Ability to work in a multi disciplinary team with other agencies
  • Desire to provide long-term support to both patients and their families


Dr David Rice
Programme Director of Old Age Psychiatry