What Practitioners Should Know About Working With Older Adults


The aging population continues growing in number, diversity and mental health needs. Estimating the current mental health workforce serving older adults remains challenging. Nonetheless, a common consensus is the current workforce is insufficient to meet current and anticipated future demand.

This publication is designed to provide psychologists and other health care practitioners with resources, tools and information to enhance their work with older adults (defined as persons 65 years of age and older). It is intended to serve as a resource in response to the Institute on Medicine's 2011 report, "The Geriatric Mental Health and Substance Use Workforce: In Whose Hands?" that highlights the necessity of increasing the geriatric workforce to address mental health and substance use needs of older adults.

The publication utilizes the framework of and summarizes the guidance offered in the 2013 APA Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Older Adults.  It links readers to the complete set of APA guidelines and additional resources for those currently working with older adults or hoping to work with this population in the future.

For practitioners who wish to specialize in professional geropsychology, more detailed guidance is available in the “Pikes Peak Attitudes, Knowledge and Skills Competencies for Practice in Professional Geropsychology," and the corresponding competencies assessment tool developed by the Council of Professional Geropsychology Training Programs.