According to Life Senior Services, 20% of older adults experience mental health concerns that are not a part of regular aging. Things like depression, mood disorders, and anxiety respond well to treatment; however, many seniors do not seek the help they need. It is important to bring awareness to these implications for older adults and their loved ones so that we do not leave mental health issues untreated. To better understand the importance of mental health for the elderly community, here are the “5 Facts You Need To Know About Mental Health and Aging.”
- Mental health is a normal part of aging: Anxiety is different from the normal worries of everyday life, and if very treatable. Similarly, depression is different from sadness that comes from grieving and loss. About 6% of American adults have a diagnosable depressive illness apart from experiences of sadness of getting older.
2. Mental health is just as important as physical health: Just like physical health, mental health contributes to overall well being. Untreated mental health disorders in older adults can lead to diminished functioning, substance abuse, poor quality of life, and increased mortality. Research shows mental illness can slow healing from physical illnesses.
3. Mental health problems are always a risk: Despite previous history, developing a mood disorder or mental health problem is common and normal for seniors. Sometimes mental health deteriorates in response to a stroke, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, arthritis, or diabetes, and even some medications. Older adults without a history of substance abuse may abuse medications, alcohol, or drugs.
4. Older adults have unique mental health needs: Changing bodies and chemistry, changes in family and friendships, and changes in living situations all have an effect on mental health and need to be considered in treatment. Avoidance and misdiagnosis are often common in treating seniors mental illnesses, as well as medication and medication interactions affecting mood.
5. Symptoms for calling your mental health provider for a consultation include:
- Sadness that has lasted longer than two weeks.
- Consistent worries about issues such as money, family and health.
- Consistent trouble sleeping or concentrating
- Frequent trouble remembering things or feeling confused in familiar places
- Have more than one alcoholic drink a day or take more medication than prescribed.
What You Should Know:
Depression is the most common mental illness in the seniors community and also the most treatable. Support groups, individual psychotherapy, light therapy for older adults who are unable to be outside in the colder months, and medications are just a few ways to help one who is feeling depressed.Those who have dementia are also susceptible. The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that approximately 40% of people with Alzheimer’s and related disorders suffer from depression. Check out our recent blog post, What is Seasonal Affective Disorder? for an in depth guide on spotting signs of SAD and depression in the elderly this winter.
Psych360 provides comprehensive mental health solutions for long-term care communities. We deliver a hybrid of both on-site and telehealth psychiatric and psychological services for your residents. Connect with us at psych360.org or give us a call at (330) 536-3746 for more information