Mental health issues are on the rise, according to the latest reports from the World Health Organization. More than 40 million people in the United States currently suffer from anxiety, and over 19 million live with some form of depression. Those are only a couple of the mental disorders that affect the population. To make matters worse, many people are affected by those conditions but don’t get the help they need to deal with them in a healthy way. While no one is invulnerable to mental disorders, recent studies show that people over the age of 55 are at greater risk of developing them than others.
Seniors who are suffering from an acute psychiatric episode, however, can find solace knowing there is a place for them to get better. Chelsea Senior Living has the only mental health program for seniors in New Jersey at our East Brunswick location. But before assuming you or your loved one are ready to get help, it’s important to understand the signs and effects of mental health disorders.
Understanding Why Seniors are More at Risk of Developing Mental Health Issues
Many people wonder why their aging loved ones are more at risk of developing mental health issues than those in other age categories. Studies show that several factors enter the mix. For one, cognitive decline that often occurs as we get older can detract from mental wellness. Experts note that this could come from numerous sources, with one of the most significant being a loss of purpose. Seniors find that their direction in life isn’t quite as clear once their children grow up and build lives and families of their own. Their friends often drift away as well.
These aspects can lead to greater isolation. In fact, an estimated 25 percent of seniors are isolated or lonely. They don’t have as much contact with friends and loved ones as they once did. They’re often less active than they were in their younger years, and they don’t go out as much. Many also live alone. All this increases loneliness and isolation. In turn, those elements further contribute to both cognitive decline and the development of mental disorders.
Additionally, many aging Americans suffer from various medical conditions. Those illnesses can cause pain, inflammation, and other problems. From there, the conditions often lead to a lack of sleep, which can increase the effects of physical issues. Decreased physical activity and the lack of an established routine that tend to come with aging have been found to boost the risk of insomnia as well. Research indicates that insomnia increases the risk of mental disorders. All those issues create a cycle that causes declines in both physical and mental health.
Exploring the Effects of Mental Disorders on Physical Health
As mentioned, physical health problems can lead to mental disorders. This chain of events works both ways. Mental disorders likewise bring about physical problems. Though many people insist those physical effects are all in people’s heads, science has proven that’s not the case. Mental issues impact the brain, and the brain affects the physical body. Mental disorders may cause a loss of appetite and serious digestive issues. Both may detract from physical health and lead to weakness and fatigue. Mental disorders may also cause headaches, muscle soreness, inflammation, joint aches, and other physical symptoms.
Recognizing the Symptoms of Mental Disorders
Spotting the warning signs of mental disorders in aging loved ones isn’t always easy. That’s especially true in cases where people have little contact with their senior family members. Due to increased isolation, the symptoms of mental illnesses often go unnoticed in seniors. At the same time, many people attribute those symptoms to general signs of aging. Because of that, it’s important to be on the lookout for the warning signs of mental illnesses in older people.
People who are living with mental disorders often become angry or irritable more often and more easily than usual. Sudden, unexpected mood swings are common as well. They may become tired more quickly than they once did. Though this can be a simple sign of aging, it’s also a symptom of mental disorders. Trouble concentrating is also a typical warning sign of mental illnesses. Aging loved ones who are living with mental health issues may also become paranoid or struggle to deal with everyday problems.
Many elderly people who are battling mental disorders and isolation further lose touch with reality. They may begin suffering from negative delusion, excessive feelings of guilt, and noticeably increased sadness. Some turn to alcohol and begin to drink more often than they did in their younger years. Routinely talking about death or suicide is also a common sign of depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders. If an aging loved one often seems confused or has trouble expressing his or her thoughts, it could be an indication of dementia and the need for memory care.
Keeping Mental Health Issues Under Control
It’s not always possible to prevent the development of mental disorders, but certain measures can help reduce the likelihood of mental decline. For one, it’s important to stay connected with aging loved ones and make sure they have the resources they need to keep in touch with the outside world. Giving them the means to stay connected will help reduce the risks of becoming lonely and isolated and developing resulting mental illnesses. Staying in touch with aging loved ones also makes it easier to spot the early signs of mental disorders when they start to arise.
Additionally, helping an aging loved one adhere to a daily routine can aid in preventing cognitive decline and the onset of mental health issues. Physical activity helps as well. It also goes a long way toward keeping insomnia at bay, which further reduces the likelihood of physical and mental symptoms. Encouraging elderly loved ones to take up hobbies helps keep their minds occupied can lead to a greater sense of purpose and satisfaction. Socializing with others also diminishes the risks of developing mental disorders. Turning to an assisted living community could be the answer for all of those elements.
Helping Aging Loved Ones Stay Happy and Healthy
With the only mental health program for seniors in New Jersey, Chelsea Senior Living is dedicated to helping seniors live happy, healthy lives. Seniors are around individuals who are going through similar psychiatric episodes and find comfort and friendship with each other while getting the help they need.
The mental health program, known as The Crossings, is located at The Chelsea at East Brunswick. In many cases, seniors transition to Assisted Living due to the comfort and familiarity of the environment. The experience, attitude, and skill of the team at Chelsea makes all the difference and they are ready to welcome you home.