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The effects of aging and mental health

Essay Topic: ,


This research proposal has been written to show how the elderly are able to access information regarding their mental health. This is important, as many people are now living longer and the prevalence of mental health issues, which may be associated with the elderly, is growing.

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Over the past, few years’ newspapers have reported on how the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom (UK) is failing to meet the needs of the elderly (Age Concern, 2007; Guardian, 2007).

This demonstrates that there is a need to improve the information and advice that is available to the elderly regarding their mental in the UK. This is imperative, because if this group of the populace suffers from mental health problems it has the potential to seriously impact upon their daily lives and place more pressure on the health care services in the United Kingdom. Therefore, to attain a quality of life the elderly need to understand how they can access services through the NHS to enable them to gain access to advice or the treatment, which they may need. This study seeks to explore how effectively the elderly are able to access this information and services through the NHS. This shall be considered by undertaking a qualitative study (Saks and Allsop, 2007) into whether or not elderly patients have access to this information and how this may be improved if necessary.


This study shall be completed by undertaking a qualitative study, which will be based on conducting a number of surveys to seek to ascertain how these patients feel the provision of information and services to them is In regards to their mental health. This will seek to ascertain how effectively the elderly are able to access information and services through the NHS. Research published by Fried et.al. (2004) stated that ‘…with the aging of the population, people will be living one third of their lives after retirement. It is imperative that we develop effective health promotion in this last third of life so that those living longer are healthier. Improved health-related behaviors could contribute substantially to this goal because of health impact, low cost, and broad applicability…. In addition, cognitively stimulating activity may preserve cognition with age. However, engagement in all of these activities declines substantially as people age, suggesting opportunity for improvement of the public’s health through these avenues.” (Fried et.al. 2004, pp. 64). Therefore, this research should enable us to ascertain if this is still reflective of the current situation in the NHS in the UK.


The demographic changes, which will happen over the next few years in the United Kingdom, will lead to an increase in the number of older people. Simultaneously, the mental health of this aging population is becoming an increasing issue, which health care providers need to manage. Therefore, the promotion and management of the information and services, which are available to these patients, is of upmost importance. If the mental health care of this elderly population is actively promoted, this may lead to a reduction in the occurrences of severe mental health problems, which are not, treated, a reduction in care costs and at the same time, these patients quality of life could be improved. Therefore the promotion of good mental health and well being for the elderly should be integrated into current developments in policy and practice, nationally and locally. In this regards, this study seeks to explore how effectively the elderly are able to access information and services through the NHS today.


The proposed outline of the dissertation is described in the next section.


Many patients who access services are now elderly or form part of an ageing populace in the United Kingdom (Hunkeler et.al. 2006). This has created a need for the NHS to ensure that these patients receive the care, which is necessary so that they may safeguard their mental health (Meadows, Harvey, Fossey, and Burgess, 2000). To this end, a number of reports have found that the NHS in the UK has failed to meet these needs to date (as an example see: Age Concern, 2007; Guardian, 2007; Hancock et al., 2003; Jokela, Batty and Kivimaki, 2013). These issues are only set to increase as the number of elderly patients within the UK populations grows (Olsen, 2013: Shah and Bhat, 2008).Therefore, it is essential that the services and information, which is made available to this elderly population, is comprehensive and accessible to ensure that they are aware of the prevalence of mental health issues which they may experience (Dahl and Olsson, 2013).

There are many reasons as we age our mental health changes (Bauermeister, 2012), though this is not commonly discussed with the elderly and they are often not aware of the differences between the biological changes they should expect to experience and the onset of disease which may affect their mental health or capacity to be independent (Ennis and Bunting, 2013). Furthermore, we seek need to explain the differences between the expected biological changes that they may experience and when medical help should be sought so that this group become more aware of mental health problems (Callaghan, 2004). As if these remain undiagnosed and untreated, they may result in the development of other more serious conditions (Ferraro and Wilkinson, 2013). This is why this research is so important. Therefore, this study shall be undertaken to explore this phenomena.


In line with the findings from the literature review above, provisionally, the following research questions have been developed.

Do elderly patients understand which services are available to them and how these can be accessed
Are elderly patients are aware of how their mental health may change as they grow older
What recommendations can be made in regards to how elderly patients may gain an improved understanding of which services are available to them and how these can be accessed

This study shall be based on the surveys, which will (Aveyard, 2009), to seek to ascertain how prevalent the issues, which have been outlined above are (Bowling, 2005). It is hoped that this will lead to a number of recommendations, which may be made to seek to resolve or to improve the information regarding the services, which are available to the elderly through the NHS in the UK.


The research philosophy, which has been adopted for this study is positivism (Green and Thorogood, 2006). This means that the research will be based on objective factors, which are collated through observation (Blaxter, Hughes and Tight, 2001). This shall be undertaken by seeking to gauge the opinions of elderly patients through disseminating questionnaires to them to seek to understand how prevalent the issues associated with the mental health care of the elderly are in the UK.


The research approach, which has chosen for this study is qualitative in nature. A qualitative study is a piece of primary research, which seeks to understand real world issues. Therefore the surveys, which shall be conducted, shall seek to ascertain how the elderly feel that they are informed of current services, which are available to them through the NHS in the UK.This will allow the researcher to explore the problem, which was outlined above and to see if any new recommendations should be made to help to ensure that elderly patients receive the correct information in regards to the services, which are available to them through the NHS.


The research strategy, which has been chosen for this study is surveys (Robson, 2002), which will be combined with an empirical methodology to seek to ensure that the findings from these are validated.


Data collection shall be undertaken by disseminating a number of surveys to elderly patients, who attend their GP surgeries. These shall be used to collect information to investigate the research problem, which has been stated above.


All analyses shall be based the results of the surveys which are disseminated and statistical tools such as, SPSS..


Access to this these patients shall be agreed with the managers of GP surgeries prior to he undertaking of this study.


The findings from this study should be reliable and repeatable, as the methods shall be based on a survey work, which will be conducted in a number of doctor’s surgeries in the United Kingdom. Additionally the results from these shall be statistically analysed. This will ensure that the parameters of the study are met and that the results can be generalised to wider populaces.


Issues such as, patient confidentiality and privacy have been considered, the aims of the research shall be communicated to respondents prior to their involvement in the research. Once they have agreed to take part, they will be given a statement, which details the nature of the study, how their responses and identities shall be kept confidential and how the results will be utilised by the researcher. Furthermore, the researcher shall provide their contact details on the questionnaire to ensure that if respondents have any concerns or queries regarding the study they can be answered. Each of these factors shall ensure that this research shall be conducted and undertaken in an ethical manner, so that individual’s confidentiality, personal information and opinions remain private.


As this research is based on survey research there may be a number of limitations, which need to be considered. These stem from a number of issues such as the fact that respondents may not fully complete their questionnaires, they may not wish to partake in the study, the number of responses to the surveys may be limited, it may be challenging to find doctors surgeries who are willing to let their patients take part in this research or the findings from the research may be limited due to responses given by respondents. However, if this is the case then the parameters of the study shall be re-examined to seek to ensure that these limitations are minimised where possible.


In conclusion, this study shall be undertaken by conducting survey research in a number of doctor’s surgeries in the United Kingdom. The information which is collated from these surveys will be enable us to ascertain if the current methods which are utilised by the NHS to inform elderly patients of the information and services which are available to them In regards to their mental health meets their needs. This will also enable us to ascertain to what extent and how effectively the elderly are able to access information and services through the NHS. Once this information has been collated and analyzed where appropriate a number of recommendations may be made.

TasksTask LeadStartEnd
Literature ReviewResearcher08/08/201329/08/2013
Write Up ResultsResearcher29/08/201330/09/2013
Write MethodologyResearcher21/09/201321/10/2013
Collate DataResearcher21/10/201321/01/2014
Write up resultsResearcher21/01/201421/01/2014
Write discussionResearcher21/01/201421/02/2014
Write conclusionsResearcher21/02/201430/02/2014


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