What You Should Know About Mental Health and the Elderly

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With the wonders of modern medicine, people are living longer. Due to this, the older population is proportionately growing. It’s estimated in 2050, the amount of people over the age of 60 will double - from 12% to 22%.

Still, the older generations face health problems the younger generation often forgets about. And with that, they also have to handle mental health. Sometimes, both the physical and mental complications go hand-in-hand. For example, an elderly person may receive a drug for severe pain and develop a substance abuse disorder.

The prime reason mental health is an issue as older age comes is due to the fact that besides everyday life stressors, there are other stressors which are more common with old age. A simple example is reduced mobility. Something most young people wouldn’t consider, the lack of ability in being able to move around can without a doubt affect one’s mental health.

In fact, around 7% of the older population is diagnosed with depression, a crippling disease which is underdiagnosed and undertreated as it is. It’s one of the most common mental illnesses within the older population in which can go overlooked. Not only is it a concerning matter for the mental effects it has on the victim, but it can create poorer medical functioning for those already facing chronic conditions, such as diabetes or cardiac problems.

As you can see, mental health and physical health correlate very prominently. And this is especially true when it comes to older generations. When it comes to the elderly and mental health, you should know it can further the risks of physical health.

Furthermore, there’s the more likely chance of dementia - a syndrome where there’s deterioration in:

  • Ability to perform everyday activities

  • Behavior

  • Memory

  • Thinking

It’s important to note that though dementia is common amongst the older population, it’s not a normal part of aging. Many are led to believe that mental deficiency is apart of old age even though this isn’t true. In fact, there are forms of dementia which are reversible, such as vitamin deficiency.

Most of the time, dementia is a progressive syndrome. This means symptoms will begin at a slow pace and, overtime, become worse. If you or a loved one has recently been going through memory difficulty, it’s vital you consult a doctor as soon as possible. As mentioned, dementia can be treated and there are too many instances where people let it go untreated.

In fact, no matter what mental health difficulties you or your loved one face, there are options for treatment. These include seeking out health providers or communities which meet the needs of an elderly person, such as:

  • Age-friendly services.

  • Long-term, sustainable care and policies

  • Prevention of age-associated chronic diseases

  • Reputable training for health professionals in caring for older people

The importance of finding this for your loved one is also for the importance of the older population as a whole. There can be much further efforts made towards creating actively healthier mental stability for the old. These include:

  • Community development programs.

  • Programs which seek to prevent elder abuse and offer healthy support for impotent groups.

  • Proper housing with an encouraging policy.

  • Providing security.

  • Social support and programs for the older generation.

A good community can change the way each of us perceives mental health. With the right kind of training, caregivers can offer a personal, yet, professional support necessary for handling these kinds of illnesses. Furthermore, it can help take away stereotypical ideas - such as the elderly losing their minds as normal - from our society.

Where to Find Help

The first person you’ll want to reach out to is your doctor. Though they might not have all the answers, they can guide you in towards certain places within your locations. These may include:

  • Counselor

  • Psychiatrist

  • Senior Living Center

  • Therapist

For an internet resource, you can check out Better Help’s private online counseling.

Written by Paul James