The dean of the College of Medicine at The Texas A&M University System Health Science Center, Christopher C. Colenda, M.D., M.P.H., was recently elected president of the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry (AAGP). Dr. Colenda will hold the role of president-elect during 2005 until he assumes the presidency in 2006.
Founded in 1978, the AAGP represents physicians in the field of geriatric psychiatry and promotes the mental health and well being of older people. The organization works to improve the care of those with late-life mental disorders. AAGP’s mission focuses on increasing the knowledge base and standard of practice in geriatric psychiatry through education and research. The group also serves as an advocate for meeting the mental health needs of older Americans.
The field of geriatric psychiatry centers on the health of older adults, taking into account their unique physical, emotional and social needs. Older adults may visit a geriatric psychiatrist to help deal with issues such as difficulty coping with change, stress, death, depression, memory problems, family history of dementia, anxiety or agitation. Emotional changes may occur in older adults with chronic pain, Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, diabetes, stroke or other medical disorders. Geriatric psychiatrists diagnose and treat patients by listening and responding to the concerns of the older adult, helping families to better understand geriatric health issues and working with other health care professionals to develop effective approaches to treatment.
Dr. Colenda has been involved in AAGP since 1986, but will now be in a position to help further promote the organization and its goals in his new role. “Of all the things I have done during my academic and professional career, the opportunity to serve as president of this organization is one of the most significant,” Dr. Colenda said.
“The field of geriatric psychiatry has given me so much, so this is a chance for me to give back. Winning this election was also a great honor because it reflects the acknowledgment of my colleagues and peers.”
The role of president encompasses the representation of approximately 1,900 AAGP members, as well as acting as chief spokesman for the organization in matters of policy, research, patient advocacy and health services. Dr. Colenda will represent the AAGP in Congress, at the Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Mental Health, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the White House to champion the organization’s legislative and regulatory agenda.
In addition to acting as the treasurer in 2004, Dr. Colenda has been active in the AAGP by serving as a member of the Board of Directors from 2000 to 2004 and the chairman of the Public Policy and Communications Committee for the last three years.
Founded in 1977, the College of Medicine at The Texas A&M University System Health Science Center is committed to educating, training and equipping physicians who are compassionate about their patients and dedicated to the communities in which they serve. Located on the Texas A&M University campus, the college utilizes approximately 700 basic scientists and clinicians to instruct students during the course of their medical education. The College of Medicine’s primary clinical affiliate is Scott & White Hospital in Temple, which is ranked as one of the top15 teaching hospitals in the nation.

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