Geriatric Psychiatry Program

A special program of emotional and mental health care for older adults.

Close to 70,000 adults 65 and older live in the tri-county region, most independent of their families, most still in the comfort and convenience of their own homes. But many older adults need more than healthy independence; they also need special care for the distinct problems facing them during this unique stage of life.

In mid-Michigan, McLaren Greater Lansing's G.E.M.S. (Geropsychiatric Evaluation and Management Services) helps older adults live life to a fuller capacity with the medical, clinical and social support to not only survive but to thrive.

What problems of aging can the G.E.M.S. program help with? What signs or symptoms should I be aware of?

  • Depression.
  • Prolonged grief over the loss of a loved one or one's independence.
  • Unusual behavioral or mood changes.
  • Confusion or dementia.
  • Memory problems.
  • Decreased ability to perform activities of daily living.
  • Loss of interest in people or usual activities.
  • Excessive complaints about physical problems when seemingly healthy.
  • Suspicious behavior or thinking.
  • Uncharacteristic anger, irritability, or agitation.
  • Physically assaultive behavior.
  • Trouble with self-care, daily routines, or decision making.
  • Feelings of hopelessness or suicidal thoughts.
  • Being easily angered, irritable, or agitated.
  • Trouble with self care, daily routines, or decision making.
  • Feeling life is not worth living.
  • Feeling so sad or tense that routine daily tasks are hard to complete.
  • Lack of energy.
  • Difficulty concentrating.

What is unique about McLaren Greater Lansing's G.E.M.S. program?

  1. The program provides inpatient mental health assessment and treatment in a safe, structured, comfortable and convenient environment.
  2. The structure of the program ensures full confidentiality, dignity and respect for each individual and his/her family.
  3. G.E.M.S. also enjoys access to a wide range of health care services available at McLaren Greater Lansing, which further enhances treatment and follow-up care for older adults.

Besides the medical director, what other health care professionals make up the G.E.M.S. treatment team?

  • A consulting neuropsychologist
  • Activity, physical and occupational therapists
  • Clinical social workers
  • Psychiatric nurses
  • Physicians from McLaren Greater Lansing's Internal Medicine Department, to ensure the physical health care needs of each individual are also appropriately addressed and managed.

Is there an "average" length of stay in the G.E.M.S. unit for patients?

If an inpatient stay is found to be appropriate, the length of stay will depend on the individual problem and/or complaint. Most people spend an average of one to two weeks on the unit.

What is treatment like on the G.E.M.S. unit?

During their stay, patients take part in individual, group, behavioral and activity therapy. Medication and/or medical treatment may also be part of the individual treatment plan.

What happens when a patient leaves the unit to go home?

Before discharge, a follow-up care plan is also outlined. It will include any suggested living and support arrangements for aftercare.

Help for Families Too

The G.E.M.S. staff and physicians know how difficult it can be to watch loved ones grow older, lose their ability or capacity to enjoy life, and require more help over time. But we also know how to help families cope so they, too, can enjoy their life to its fullest.

What kind of help can a patient's family expect?

Because we are aware of the challenges associated with making mental health care decisions and the unique struggles in caring for an aging family member, we provide needed support and solutions to families throughout their loved one's treatment and beyond.

  • G.E.M.S. staff meet regularly with family members and caregivers during the patient's hospitalization and before discharge.
  • Staff members help family members access appropriate community resources. Those efforts help extend the G.E.M.S. program for long-term success

What to Expect When G.E.M.S. Unity Hospitalization is Recommended

It's normal to have concerns and questions when admission to the G.E.M.S. unit has been recommended by your doctor of the unit's medical director. What is treatment like at G.E.M.S.?

The following information is provided to help you gain a better understanding of the treatment-and treatment environment-on the G.E.M.S. unit.


What is the focus of treatment in the G.E.M.S. program?

The clinical focus is the diagnosis and treatment of acute emotional, cognitive and behavioral consequences of mental disorders facing older adults.

Specifically, what will treatment consist of?

Once evaluated, an individual treatment plan is designed for each patient and may include the following components:

  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Recreational and activity therapy
  • Behavioral therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Medication management
  • Rehabilitation services
  • Treatment of medical problems by an appropriate consulting physician

It's hard to accept that treatment at G.E.M.S. is needed. How "common" are mental and emotional problems in seniors?

There are a lot of "common" problems aging adults experience-physically, emotionally, and mentally. Even though most people have a tendency to feel more comfortable talking about a physical health problem than they do an emotional or mental problem, each requires-and deserves-compassionate, quality, clinically excellent health care and treatment. Accepting such help for each distinct problem is a major step toward getting the right treatment and enjoying the most optimal long-term health possible.

What are some of these "common" problems aging adults may experience?

Some of the more common problems a doctor may diagnose, and reasons s/he may recommend G.E.M.S., include:

  • Various types of depression
  • Emotional problems associated with aging
  • Late life psychotic disorders (delusional disorders and schizophrenia)
  • Various types of dementia with behavioral or emotional symptoms

Other reasons hospitalization on the G.E.M.S. unit may be recommended include:

  • Your family member/loved one feels hopeless or talks about suicide.
  • Your family member/loved one has been physically assaultive.
  • Your family member/loved one is currently unable to function outside of a structured setting.
  • Your family member/loved one has not achieved success with outpatient treatment for his/her problem.

Are there any requirements for someone to be admitted to the G.E.M.S. unit to get treatment?

Before being admitted, the G.E.M.S. staff will perform an intake assessment, or evaluation, to determine if G.E.M.S. will be beneficial.

Some "requirements" for admission to the program include:

  • Must be ambulatory (able to walk) or wheelchair ambulatory (able to get around in a wheelchair).
  • Must be able to participate in the therapeutic process.
  • Behavior should be manageable on the G.E.M.S. unit.
  • Medical stability, to ensure that effective and safe treatment is available on the unit.

How can I get more information about the G.E.M.S. program?

For more information, you may call the G.E.M.S. Admissions Coordinator