Background: To estimate the 12-month incidence, prevalence, and persistence of mental disorders among recently admitted assisted living (AL) residents and to describe the recognition and treatment of these disorders.
Methods: Two hundred recently admitted AL residents in 21 randomly selected AL facilities in Maryland received comprehensive physician-based cognitive and neuropsychiatric evaluations at baseline and 12 months later. An expert consensus panel adjudicated psychiatric diagnoses (using DSM-IV-TR criteria) and completeness of workup and treatment. Incidence, prevalence, and persistence were derived from the panel's assessment. Family and direct care staff recognition of mental disorders was also assessed.
Results: At baseline, three-quarters suffered from a cognitive disorder (56% dementia, 19% Cognitive Disorders Not Otherwise Specified) and 15% from an active non-cognitive mental disorder. Twelve-month incidence rates for dementia and non-cognitive psychiatric disorders were 17% and 3% respectively, and persistence rates were 89% and 41% respectively. Staff recognition rates for persistent dementias increased over the 12-month period but 25% of cases were still unrecognized at 12 months. Treatment was complete at 12 months for 71% of persistent dementia cases and 43% of persistent non-cognitive psychiatric disorder cases.
Conclusions: Individuals recently admitted to AL are at high risk for having or developing mental disorders and a high proportion of cases, both persistent and incident, go unrecognized or untreated. Routine dementia and psychiatric screening and reassessment should be considered a standard care practice. Further study is needed to determine the longitudinal impact of psychiatric care on resident outcomes and use of facility resources.