2020 Jenike Young Investigator Award

Understanding and treating OCD in older adults

Carly Johnco, PhD

Macquarie University (Sydney, Australia)

Award Amount: $50,000

With the population aging globally, the number of older adults with OCD is expected to double within the next 30 years. We currently lack important information about the best possible ways to treat this growing number of older adults, and how to modify approaches that work with children and adults to best serve this population.

Dr. Johnco’s project will focus on family accommodation (when a family member of a person with OCD helps that person with their rituals) for older adults with OCD. Accommodation in childhood and adult OCD is well understood, and treatment approaches now commonly involve family members to reduce these actions and help their loved one recover from OCD. Older adults have an increased need for support from a variety of people, including their adult children, health care workers in the home or in a residential setting, neighbors, and others – all of whom are not the typical sources of accommodation for younger people. This study will investigate the ways that accommodation plays a role in the lives of older adults with OCD, with the aim of developing a treatment protocol to address age-appropriate accommodation that considers the unique circumstances of aging with this disorder.