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HGNI: Geriatric Mental Health Training Series - "When You Are More Than Just Down in the Dumps" Depression in Older Adults

HGNI: Geriatric Mental Health Training Series - "When You Are More Than Just Down in the Dumps" Depression in Older Adults

University of Iowa College of Nursing
Hartford Geriatric Nursing Initiative (HGNI)
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Depression is more common in older people than is often realized. The failure to recognize this treatable illness may lead to unnecessary suffering. This program provides participants with an overview of the signs and symptoms of depression, common problems that cause or mimic depression, and ways to assist elderly who may be depressed.

This is the third module in the Geriatric Mental Health Training Series (GMHTS), a six-part training program designed to be taught as a one-hour educational program for care providers in long-term care settings. The six core topics address common problems faced in LTC settings. Each is designed to help staff be more knowledgeable about the causes of "problem behaviors" and about techniques to manage those troubling behaviors. The care providers' own feelings and behaviors in response to problem behaviors is examined, including the role of values and beliefs, personal needs, and stress in the work place.  All modules can be found at:

Educational objectives: 


1.    List signs and symptoms of depression in the elderly.

2.    Discuss some of the causes of depression.

3.    Give an example of factors that should be included in assessment.

4.    Administer the Geriatric Depression Rating scale.

5.    Give an example of “front line” interventions.

6.    Discuss interventions that promote mental health for residents with depression.

Additional information/Special implementation requirements or guidelines: 

The training materials were designed to be flexible, and strongly encouraged individual trainers to adapt the modules to meet their unique needs and audiences. Throughout the training materials, trainers are urged to personalize the materials by using real-life examples from their facility, try out suggested interventions with residents prior to training staff, and use as many meaningful examples as possible to help staff apply the program concepts in their day-to-day practice.

The Geriatric Mental Health Training Series (GMHTS) was developed and evaluated between 1989 and 1994 with funds from the Division of Nursing, Bureau of Health Professions, Department of Health and Human Services, under the leadership of Kathleen C. Buckwalter, PhD, RN, FAAN, Principal Investigator and current Co-Director of the Iowa HCGNE and Marianne Smith, MS, ARNP, pre-doctoral scholar of the Iowa HCGNE. This highly acclaimed training program is provided in a revised and updated format under the leadership of the HCGNE. Training materials are adapted for broad dissemination and use, and provided at no cost to users.

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Estimated time to complete: 
1 hour 30 minutes
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Suggested Citation:
HGNI: Geriatric Mental Health Training Series - "When You Are More Than Just Down in the Dumps" Depression in Older Adults. POGOe - Portal of Geriatrics Online Education; 2011 Available from: