DAILY / MAY 6, 2012, VOL. 2, NO. 19   Send Feedback l View Online
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2012 APA's Annual Meeting Special Edition
Ingredients of Successful Aging Exist Now, Says APA President-Elect

Dillip Jeste“Positive psychiatry”—a psychiatry that aims not just to reduce psychiatric symptoms but to help patients grow and flourish—is the future, said APA President-elect Dillip Jeste, M.D., in an address today at the Opening Session of APA’s 2012 annual meeting in Philadelphia.

Jeste, who is the Estelle and Edgar Levi Chair in Aging and Director, Sam and Rose Stein Institute for Research on Aging at the University of California, San Diego, said this emerging form of “positive psychiatry” will be especially pertinent to an aging society. “The world population is aging,” he said. “The number of people over 65 will double in the next 20 to 25 years. Some people disparagingly dub this as Silver Tsunami, as if it's a disaster waiting to happen.

“I strongly disagree with this view,” Jeste said. “I see the demographic shift, not as a Silver Tsunami, but as a Golden Wave, or a Golden Revolution, if you will. Older people are a major resource and not a drain on the society.”

Jeste said that growing numbers of seniors are functioning at a very high level and contributing to the society in a major way. “This type of successful aging is no longer a grandma's tale or a feel-good TV show,” he said. “It is now an evidence-based scientific fact. Some of the most exciting neuroscience research during that past 15 to 20 years has shown conclusive evidence of neuroplasticity of aging.

“Studies across species have shown that brain growth and development are not restricted to childhood, but continue into old age,” Jeste said. “Blood vessels, synapses, even neurons can grow in certain parts of the brain, provided there is optimal psychosocial and physical stimulation.

“Successful aging is not a fantasy, it's a fact,” he said. “The pathway to successful aging is not just through calorie restriction and physical activity, it is also through promoting and enhancing resilience, optimism, wisdom, and social engagement through our psychotherapeutic interventions.”

Jeste, who grew up in India and spoke of his gratitude and awe at becoming president of APA (“While I was in psychiatric training in India, everyone there considered APA as a celestial body”) also spoke of his hope to expand the international diversity of APA. “APA already is a big tent, but I would like to expand it even further by getting more international members, subspecialists, younger psychiatrists, and those from diverse backgrounds,” he said. “APA also can contribute significantly to educational activities in various other countries, especially the developing countries where there is a serious shortage of psychiatrists,” Jeste said.



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