Background: In response to the global challenges of population aging in Portugal, it is crucial to improve research, education and clinical training in old age in order to meet the growing demands placed on psychogeriatric care services.
Methods: An overview is provided on the status of old age psychology and psychiatry as part of the multidisciplinary care delivery system for the elderly in Portugal. Available educational offerings and clinical training in geriatric mental health at both undergraduate and postgraduate level are described, as well as primary research associations and initiatives within Portugal.
Results: Important issues raised include the need for more educational and clinical training programs for specialists, a broader commitment to aging research and the need to increase interest in working with older adults among students across disciplines. The recent movement towards multidisciplinary work conducted by researchers, psychiatrists, psychologist and other health professionals in Portugal points to the urgent need for specialist education for all health professionals working in geriatrics. This educational initiative must focus not only on the transmission of knowledge on aging-related topics, but also on the training of specific skills and competencies. Improving geriatric mental health service delivery and connecting research with clinical practice constitute other significant steps forward.
Conclusions: An effective intervention in psychogeriatrics should involve a strategy with the participation of a multidimensional network that includes the commitment of researchers, educators, clinicians, health policy-makers and older adults. Several recommendations to improve late life mental health care are presented.