Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Doctor Focuses on the Minds of the Elderly | HeraldTribune.com

The Merry Widows moved to the community when their husbands developed Alzheimer’s disease and looked to Dr. Agronin to prepare them for what lay ahead. But while treating their husbands’ disease, he became their psychiatrist, too. He urged the women to attend therapy groups, made suggestions about medication for anxiety and encouraged new bonds of friendship.

Dr. Agronin calls them his graduates — a trio of success stories among 3,700 patients he is responsible for, in what, by all accounts, is the largest geriatric psychiatry practice in the nation, at the Miami Jewish Health Systems.

The doctor is a rare breed even in Florida, which has the highest proportion of people older than 65. There are only 17 board-certified geriatric psychiatrists in the state, and a mere six here in southeast Florida, where snowbirds from New York often come to perch. In March, acknowledging the crisis in care, the federal Institute of Medicine began a study of the shortage of geriatric mental health workers nationwide.

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