Older People, Nursing and Mental Health

Older People, Nursing and Mental Health

Patient Education and Counseling 40 (2000) 103 www.elsevier.com / locate / pateducou Book review Older People, Nursing and Mental Health Darby S, Ma...

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Patient Education and Counseling 40 (2000) 103 www.elsevier.com / locate / pateducou

Book review

Older People, Nursing and Mental Health Darby S, Marr J, Crump A & Scurfield M (1999). Butterworth / Heinemann, Oxford, Auckland. ISBN 0 7506 2440 X. Mental health problems in the elderly are a major challenge to health care. In addition to the relatively high prevalence of these problems, many misunderstandings, often of a subtle nature, complicate adequate care for older people. The book by Darby c.s. deals with the most common mental health needs from a nursing perspective. In fact, the authors seem to adhere to a humanistic tradition. It is a comprehensive text for nurses, dealing not only with practical issues, but also with theoretical notions, quality assurance and ethical dilemmas. A broad scope of issues and several authors needed to accomplish this, easily raise problems of balance and coherence. A minor point in this respect is the format of the chapters. The chapter on Depression in Old Age by Nigel Harrison is the only one with key points added to it. Somewhat more troubling is the balance between the more practical chapters and the theoretical ones. The practical chapters, especially the one on Depression in Old Age and on Acute Confusional States (by Irene

Schofield and Hazel Heath), are well written, thorough and rather complete. The theoretical treatises on myths and stereotypes (by Stuart J Darby) and the social construction of old age (by Liz Matthew) are more sketchy and eclectic in their use of theoretical sources. In addition, both use modernisation theory, but not in entirely consistent way. These authors do not seem aware of the fact that there are several theories of modernisation. Although Matthew uses ‘‘social construction’’ as a self-evident concept, it does not at all refer to social constructionist theorising in the usual sense. In the most extreme version of this, problems like acute confusion, do not have an independent existence, but are created socially. Nevertheless, these two chapters succeed in raising some important issues and challenging many common misunderstandings and stereotypical thinking. On the whole this is a valuable book, especially on the practical issues. The theoretical chapters do give nurses, but also other health carers, at least something to reflect upon. J.P.M. Diederiks Department of Medical Sociology Mastricht University

0738-3991 / 00 / $ – see front matter  2000 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved. PII: S0738-3991( 99 )00052-X