Mental Health & Aging | News | Loyola Medicine
Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Loyola Psychiatrist Authors New Book on Mental Health and Aging

image of older woman looking out the window

MAYWOOD, IL—A new book by Loyola Medicine psychiatrist Murali Rao, MD, provides a road map for understanding and preventing depression and other mental illness as we age, and when and how to seek help, when necessary. 

“While we are taking care of our parents, it’s common to begin to think, ‘what is going to happen to me when I get to their age?’ What are the things that I can now do to ensure that I stay mentally, as well as physically, healthy?” said Dr. Rao, the author of “50+ and Healthy: What You Need to Know about Mental Health and Healthy Aging.”

Dr. Rao specializes in geriatric psychiatry. He is chair of the Loyola University Medical Center Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, and professor, psychiatry at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. In his new book, Dr. Rao explains what it means to “live well,” a term “that can vary from person to person.” He also emphasizes that neither physical nor mental illness are an inevitable part of aging.

In easy-to-understand language, Dr. Rao explains:

  • What is meant by “healthy aging,” and mental health vs. mental illness
  • The various mental health disorders, and how to recognize if you or a loved one is suffering from mental illness
  • Statistics on the prevalence of mental health disorders
  • The causes, risk factors and treatments of various mental health disorders
  • How to best assist an older adult in a mental health crisis
  • Lifestyle actions you can take to promote your own healthy aging

Any person can experience both physical and mental illness, says Dr. Rao, and these can be passing (short-lived or acute) or lingering (longer-term, recurring or chronic). “Either type is still an illness or disharmony of the holistic (entire mechanism) body, which can be aided by professional health care, counseling and/or treatments.”

The book outlines how to recognize symptoms in yourself or a loved one, practical approaches to treatment, and Dr. Rao’s GAME PLANä method for “helping yourself and your loved ones, at any age, during times of distress or mental health crisis.”

“[Dr. Rao] has prepared an excellent book on mental health for the lay person, with a special emphasis on aging and mental health disorders of the elderly,” said Anand Kumar, MD, the Lizzie Gilman professor and head of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Illinois, Chicago, and past president of the American Association of Geriatric Psychiatry. “The material is thoughtfully compiled. It focuses on all the important topics and themes germane to wellness, mental health/illness and the interface between these domains.”

“I strongly recommend this book for anyone who wants to help themselves or their family members or friends with mental health-related problems, or even those who are just interested in finding out how to age successfully,” said Dilip V. Jeste, MD, senior associate dean for Healthy Aging and Senior Care, Estelle and Edgar Levi Chair in Aging, Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Neurosciences, and the director of the Sam and Rose Stein Institute for Research on Aging at the University of California, San Diego.

Dr. Rao is a member of The American College of Psychiatrists (ACP), the Academy of Psychosomatic Medicine (APM) and the Indian Psychiatric Society (IPS). He also serves on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA).

Dr. Rao has received multiple awards and fellowships, including a Distinguished Life Fellow honor from the American Psychiatric Association (APA), the Outstanding Academician Award by the Indo-American Psychiatric Association, and the Master Teacher Award by the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. Dr. Rao has more than 80 published research articles, books and book chapters.

About Loyola Medicine and Trinity Health

Loyola Medicine, a member of Trinity Health, is a quaternary care system based in the western suburbs of Chicago that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, MacNeal Hospital and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services from 1,877 physicians throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital in Maywood that includes the William G. and Mary A. Ryan Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, Illinois's largest burn center, a certified comprehensive stroke center and a children’s hospital. Having delivered compassionate care for over 50 years, Loyola also trains the next generation of caregivers through its teaching affiliation with Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine and Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. Gottlieb is a 247-licensed-bed community hospital in Melrose Park with 150 physician offices, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park. MacNeal Hospital is a 374-bed teaching hospital in Berwyn with advanced inpatient and outpatient medical, surgical and psychiatric services, advanced diagnostics and treatments. MacNeal has a 12-bed acute rehabilitation unit, a 25-bed inpatient skilled nursing facility, and a 68-bed behavioral health program and community clinics. MacNeal has provided quality, patient-centered care to the near west suburbs since 1919.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic healthcare systems in the nation, serving diverse communities that include more than 30 million people across 22 states. Trinity Health includes 92 hospitals, as well as 109 continuing care locations that include PACE programs, senior living facilities and home care and hospice services. Its continuing care programs provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually. Based in Livonia, Mich., and with annual operating revenues of $18.3 billion and assets of $26.2 billion, the organization returns $1.1 billion to its communities annually in the form of charity care and other community benefit programs. Trinity employs about 129,000 colleagues, including 7,800 employed physicians and clinicians. Committed to those who are poor and underserved in its communities, Trinity is known for its focus on the country's aging population. As a single, unified ministry, the organization is the innovator of Senior Emergency Departments, the largest not-for-profit provider of home health care services—ranked by number of visits—in the nation, as well as the nation’s leading provider of PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) based on the number of available programs.