As clinicians, what are we to do when an older client expresses the desire to die, but does not fit the criteria for depression? As professionals, we are committed to helping all clients find their will to live and build a life worth living; yet, we are affected by societal biases about what constitutes life quality among the elderly. In this thought-provoking workshop, Lea Watson encourages us to examine our views on a client’s rights to self determination in older adulthood. Through self-reflective exercises and case examples, Dr. Watson will help us weigh our ethical imperatives to provide treatment and to meet clients where they are. Participants will gain insight on the difficulties and importance of diagnosing and treating later-life depression, and the value of cultivating a creative, compassionate, and mindful approach when depression is not the central issue.
Lea Watson MD, MPH, a geriatric psychiatrist, is an assistant professor of psychiatry at UNC and directs the UNC psychiatry adult outpatient clinic. She is a supervisory and consulting psychiatrist for numerous programs, including the UNC program on depression care management, Carolina Pointe geriatric evaluation clinic, the Cedars of Chapel Hill Retirement Community, and the Orange County Department on Aging. She has published and presented widely on late-life mental health issues, including depression, appropriate use of medications, screening for depression among long-term care residents, the relationship between depression and dementia, and depression among caregivers. She is a fervent advocate for vulnerable populations, committed to preserving people’s quality of life and providing compassionate, client-centered care. Dr. Watson has won numerous awards for her outstanding teaching and research.