OBJECTIVE: To understand the current and potential role of state
hospitals in serving geriatric patients, national trends in the use of
state mental hospitals by adults age 65 and older were examined. METHODS:
State hospital use by older adults in the 50 states and the District of
Columbia was compared for the years 1984 and 1993 using published data from
the Center for Mental Health Services. RESULTS: Nationally, the number of
state hospital admissions and residents declined between 1984 and 1993, and
the rate of decrease was greater for older adults than for younger adults.
However, states varied considerably in the rate of decrease in the number
of older adult state hospital residents and admissions and in the
proportion of older adult patients diagnosed with an organic mental
disorder. In ten states, the older-adult state hospital population
increased. CONCLUSIONS: Although the national trend is toward a declining
role for state hospitals in treatment and care of older adults, in several
states the hospitals fill an important function in providing custodial care
and acute care for this population.