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Last Updated on May 13, 2020

Mental illness in the elderly is more common than you’d think. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that up to 15 percent of adults aged 60 and over Image of a brain for an article about mental health and the elderly.suffer from a mental health disorder. Depression in the elderly is common, but some other mental conditions and problems that can affect an older adult’s mental health. Read on to learn more about geriatric mental health, what elderly mental health services are available for your loved ones who may need help, and what common signs you should look for if you have concerns.

Mental Health in the Elderly: How Does Age Affect Mental Health?

Age is a factor in mental health in the elderly in a number of ways. Everyone at all points in their lifetime experiences stressors, but there are significant stressors that are unique, and these can contribute to elderly mental illness. Many older adults experience a loss in capacities, and these can be both physical and mental. An older persons’ mental health may be affected by dementia, even in its mildest form, or they may experience depression from not being able to do things they once enjoyed, such as exercising or other physical activities. Aging and mental health can also be significantly correlated together with a sense of loss. Whether an older person is experiencing “empty nest” syndrome after their children leave for college or get married, or they are experiencing the loss of a spouse or other friends, depression and loneliness can set in as a person becomes older, which can be quite a big factor in mental health in the elderly.

Mental Health in the Elderly: What Mental Health Issues Are Common in the Elderly Population?

When it comes to mental health in the elderly, the most common mental health issue that older persons experience is dementia. It’s difficult to classify dementia as a mental disorder, as it is a neurological disorder in nature; however, many of its characteristics contribute to the dysfunction that can affect mental health in the elderly, such as confusion, aggression, and other problems. 

If you’re wondering, which type of mental disorder is most common for individuals 65 and over? The answer is depression. Depression in the elderly statistics shows that up to 5 percent of seniors 65 and over suffer from depression or a similar type of mood disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Other psychological problems in old age include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), hoarding syndrome, and anxiety, which can often be comorbid with depression.

Mental Health in the Elderly: Signs and Symptoms to Look For

You may wonder why mental health issues are not addressed with the elderly. They are often missed, as older persons are often treated for physical symptoms that they experience with age. If you’re thinking about how the elderly can improve mental health, one of the best ways is to have a caring friend or family member keep an eye out for signs or symptoms so that they can alert a healthcare professional. Some things to look for when it comes to mental health in the elderly include:

  • Sudden trouble maintaining their home, apartment, or yard
  • A loss of appetite lasting more than several days 
  • A depressed or “down” mood lasting more than one week
  • Short-term memory problems
  • Loss of interest in social activities
  • Loss of interest in activities that the person once enjoyed
  • Sudden trouble handling finances 
  • Unexplained tiredness or fatigue

If you notice any of these signs, it may be a sign of declining older adult mental health. It may be a good idea to consult with your loved one’s physician. 

To learn more about mental health in older adults and the elderly, or to learn about life-changing mobility products such as stairlifts or wheelchair ramps, contact Williams Lift Co. today. We want both caregivers and their loved ones to live their best lives. 

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