As we get older, our bodies age in three ways: physically, cognitively and psychosocially. Our faces wrinkle and health deteriorates; our memories start to fail us and cognitive functions slow down; and we start to feel worse about ourselves and become more withdrawn from society and relationships. These changes are part of our human nature, however with certain preexisting illnesses, such as mental illnesses or physical ailments, aging may be a serious concern.
For the last 20 years, Dr. Dilip Jeste has studied the effects of aging in 1,500 middle-aged and older people living with schizophrenia and has found some very encouraging results. While it is true that people living with schizophrenia have a higher risk of developing physical illnesses than the general population, they actually do not age any faster cognitively than those living without schizophrenia. Even more promising, his research has shown that psychosocial functioning actually improves with age for people living with schizophrenia. They have learned from the past and are now more able to adhere to mental health treatment, have higher self-esteem and a better quality of life.
To help individuals with schizophrenia age successfully, Dr. Jeste employs the following four types of psychosocial therapy at his clinic in San Diego: