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Palliative Care Has Much to Bring to Geriatric Psychiatry Notes Special Issue of Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry

Scott Irwin, MD, PhD, Chief of Psychiatry at San Diego Hospice and The Institute for Palliative Medicine, guest edited the special issue


Palliative Care has much to bring to Geriatric Psychiatry, as they have much in common. A special issue of The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry has been devoted to palliative care and its role in the care of the elderly. Scott Irwin, MD, PhD, a pioneer in palliative psychiatry and Chief of Psychiatry and Psychosocial Services at San Diego Hospice and The Institute for Palliative Medicine, guest edited the special issue in order to disseminate the important contributions palliative care can make broadly in geriatric psychiatry.

This special issue highlights the important similarities and relationships between geriatric psychiatry and palliative care. In an editorial summarizing the issues, Irwin points out that the overarching goal of both palliative care and geriatric psychiatry is to improve the quality of life for patients and their families. This goal is accomplished by treating the whole patient, not just their diagnoses or symptoms, and focusing on common psychiatric syndromes that geriatric and hospice populations often face, such as depression and delirium.

“Psychiatrists are able to make significant, visible, and positive impacts on hospice patients and their families, many of whom are also part of the geriatric population,” said Dr. Irwin.  “The best reward of this work is when someone says, ‘Thank you for giving me my parent back!’ This special journal issue is a way to make significant improvements in our abilities to care for patients known to a wider audience.”

Drawing on the leading experts, Dr. Irwin has assembled a series of articles that define palliative care and its relationship to hospice care and geriatric psychiatry, the research that proves its efficacy, its role in contemporary health care, and provides examples of clinical innovations that will affect the practice of geriatric psychiatrists and palliative care clinicians alike.

“It is my hope that this issue generates more understanding and enthusiasm for collaboration by both camps,” said Dr. Irwin. “In the end, patients, and their families, will reap the benefits of this partnership.”

The journal article is currently available for purchase on The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry website.

About San Diego Hospice and The Institute for Palliative Medicine
San Diego Hospice and The Institute for Palliative Medicine is one of the largest community-owned, not-for-profit hospices in the country, bringing compassionate, expert medical care to more than 1,000 seriously ill adults and children each day throughout San Diego County.  For more information, visit or call toll-free 866-688-1600. Join our online communities on FacebookTwitter, Google+, YouTube and The Caregiver’s Corner blog.


 San Diego Hospice
 Geriatric Psychiatry
 palliative care
 Psychosocial Services

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