According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 15 percent of all adults over theage of 60 experience some kind of mental health problem.
None of these issues are considered by professionals to be normal parts of aging. Nor are they anything to be ashamed of. They are
real conditions that can often be successfully treated or managed by getting professional help.
Some of the most common mental health issues in the elderly and senior population include:
Depression—Older adults have a heightened risk of depression, which makes this one of the most important issues in the field of geriatric mental health.
Anxiety disorders—All of us have fears and temporary worries. But some people have feelings of anxiety that don't go away or that consistently get triggered in certain kinds of situations. As a result, they may have trouble doing normal activities.
Dementia—Most people are aware of Alzheimer's disease, but it's important to knowhat several other forms of dementia exist as well. They can cause a person's memory to deteriorate and lead to other symptoms such as confusion, personality changes, erratic behavior, and communication difficulties. Some professionals prefer to classify dementia as a brain disorder rather than as a mental illness.
Delirium—This temporary mental condition is mostly experienced by elderly people who've been hospitalized for a separate medical issue .It's usually characterized by sudden symptoms like confusion, an inability to focus, or a spike or rapid decrease in body movement.
Risk Factors for Seniors
Medical problems—A wide variety of medical conditions and chronic use of some medicines can contribute to the development of mental health issues such as depression.
Loss of independence—When seniors lose their ability to fully take care of themselves on a daily basis, they can be at a higher risk of experiencing setbacks to their mental well-being.
Loss of close friends or family members—It's normal and necessary to grieve forthose we love and care about when they pass away. But many seniors experience more grieving than younger people as they begin to lose more of their long-time friends, partners, or spouses.
A drop in economic status—For many seniors, retirement requires a simpler lifestyle than they're used to, which often means engaging in different activities or moving into new residential settings. The impacts of those changes can be compounded if they have any disabilities that require even bigger adjustments to their living situations.
Loneliness or social isolation—Older adults are often more prone to feelings of
abandonment or isolation as a result of disabilities, medical problems, the loss of people in their lives, or other factors. And those feelings have been shown to contribute to thedevelopment of depression and other mental health problems.
Periods of heightened stress—Life is full of common stressors. But anything that causes more stress than normal—or that causes prolonged stress—can play a
significant role in the development of a mental health issue. Examples include stressors such as traumatic events, taking care of a chronically or terminally ill loved one, or major changes to finances, important relationships, or living circumstances.
Elder abuse or neglect—The WHO says that about 17 percent of all seniors experience some kind of elder abuse. Some seniors are emotionally, physically, psychologically, sexually, or financially abused—often by people they know or trust. The result is a loss of dignity that, for obvious reasons, can lead to various types of mental health challenges.
Poor nutrition—Regardless of whether it's by choice or due to neglect or financial reasons, having a poor diet can deprive a person of the vital nutrients that are necessary for a healthy brain and mind.
Family history—For some people, genetics play a contributing role in their mental health. A predisposition to certain mental disorders can be passed on from one generation to the next, which means that some people are at higher risk than others based on nothing more than their family histories.
Common Warning Signs
When it comes to seniors (and mental health issues that might be affecting them), warning signs may include things such as:
· Sad or hopeless feelings that last more than a couple of weeks
· Unusual changes to mood, appetite, or energy levels
· Persistent sleeping difficulties or over-sleeping
· Persistent troubles with concentration
· Restlessness or feelings of being "on-edge"
· Decreased ability to cope with everyday stress
· Heightened irritability, hostility, or anger
· High-risk behaviors or actions that scare other people
· Persistent worrying about relationships or health or financial matters
· Obsessive thoughts or compulsive actions that disrupt normal day-to-day living
· A sense of emotional numbness
· Confusion in familiar settings or recurring difficulties with memory
· Heavier-than-normal alcohol consumption
· Excessive consumption of prescribed medications
· Persistent pain, headaches, or issues with digestion
· Suicidal thinking
If you or somebody you love is displaying warning signs like those above, seek professional help right away. The earlier you get assistance, the more effective any treatment is likely to be.
Prevention & Treatment
· Get help immediately if you're in distress
· Make a lifestyle changes for better living
· Eat a healthy diet
· Stay physically active
· Maintain good sleeping habits
· Exercise your mind
· Take care of medical issues right away
· Get the support of friends and family
· Stay engaged in some activities