The characteristics of ethnic elders from the Indian subcontinent using a geriatric psychiatry service in West London
Abstract The population of ethnic elders in the UK is increasing. This may lead to increase in psychiatric morbidity and utilization of geriatric psychiatry services. A cross-sectional comparative study examining the demographic, social and clinical characteristics of Indian subcontinent origin elders with mental illness was undertaken in an established geriatric psychiatry service. Of the patients in the study, 17% were of Indian subcontinent origin compared to 7% in the general population. Comparison with indigenous patients revealed that ethnic elders were younger, had more children, had more people living in their household and were more likely to have schizophrenia. There were no differences with regard to use of health and social service resources between the ethnic and indigenous elders. Our findings do not support the traditional myth that ethnic elders do not adequately access services and that these individuals are primarily cared for by extended families.