• The psychiatric, forensic, and cognitive characteristics of an extensively hospitalized sample of older adult inpatients with psychosis were investigated.

• Older adult inpatients exhibited primary psychiatric symptoms via delusions and negative symptoms.

• Older adults demonstrated worse overall cognition and memory than general psychiatric inpatients.

• More severe hallucinations were associated with greater psychotropic medication dosage; more severe depressive symptoms were associated with more frequent violent acts.

• The results highlight the importance of understanding older adult psychiatric inpatients separately from their younger counterparts.

As the number of older adults in the United States continues to grow, the population of older adults with severe mental illness in institutional settings (OASIS) is expected to place a significant demand on healthcare resources. This study presents an update to research regarding the clinical characteristics of OASIS inpatients with histories of extensive hospitalization through the use of a newly developed psychiatric measure: the Clinician-Rated Dimension of Psychosis Symptom Severity.

We investigated an OASIS sample (N = 55) with an average of nearly 30 continuous years of hospitalization at a forensic state psychiatric hospital.

The average OASIS patient exhibited the most prominent psychiatric symptoms via delusions and negative symptoms, received psychotropic medications at substantially higher doses than recommended therapeutic levels, rarely committed acts of institutional violence (IV), and performed more than two standard deviations below the normative mean on cognitive testing. More severe hallucination symptoms were associated with higher psychotropic medication dosage, and more severe depressive symptoms were associated with more IV incidents. OASIS inpatients performed moderately worse than general psychiatric inpatients in the areas of overall cognition, immediate memory, and delayed memory; older age was associated with poorer language and attention. No psychiatric or cognitive factors predicted IV incidents.

These results highlight the continued importance of understanding the psychiatric, forensic, and cognitive factors associated with aging in an institutional setting and how these factors among OASIS inpatients may vary from general psychiatric inpatients.

Frederick Hives II Psy.D., Kenny A. Karyadi Ph.D., Steve Nitch Ph.D., Dominique Kinney Ph.D.
The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, Volume 26, Issue 2, February 2018