Report: Mental health problems affect 1 in 5 seniors

July 11, 2012 5:00:48 AM PDT
Most Americans know getting older can mean a greater risk of heart disease and painful knees, but a new report finds as many as one in five U.S. seniors has a mental health problem such as depression.

More surprising, many seniors also have problems with alcohol or drugs, and getting help may not be easy.

The Institute of Medicine says millions of elderly Americans are suffering and the U.S. is lacking in health workers trained for these needs.

The panel estimates as many as 8 million Americans, ages 65 and older, have a mental health condition or substance abuse disorder.

The numbers are expected to grow as the senior population does.