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What You Should Know About Mental Health for Seniors?

Mental Health in Senior

Seniors are at risk of physical health issues. For example, a person loses bone mass as they age, which puts them at a higher risk of osteoporosis and broken bones. However, people also need to consider the mental health of seniors today. Why is mental health of great importance in the older population? 

People often dismiss signs of mental health issues as part of the normal aging process. However, they aren’t. In addition, many seniors worry they will be stigmatized if they admit to needing mental health services. This must change quickly. 

An Aging Population

By 2050, experts predict there will be over two billion adults over the age of 60 across the globe. Twenty-five percent of these individuals will experience mental health issues, such as dementia, anxiety, or depression. In addition, they may struggle with substance abuse, regular mental distress, and more. In fact, seniors have the highest rate of suicide today. With the help of senior mental health services, these challenges can be overcome. 

The Link Between Mental and Physical Health

Individuals who are lonely and isolated are more at risk of health problems. According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), more than a quarter of seniors live alone today. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are socially isolated or lonely, however, 

Many seniors who live alone remain socially active and have family and friends they spend time with. A person can be lonely even when surrounded by others. Families need to recognize the distinction between the two and ensure the seniors in their family aren’t lonely or socially isolated. Humans need social interaction to thrive. 

Risk Factors for Mental Health Conditions

Several things put seniors more at risk of mental health issues. They may have an illness that contributes to the problem, or they could deal with chronic pain. Medication interactions or physical complaints could lead to problems with mental health. The same holds for malnutrition or a poor diet. In addition, the senior is dealing with many changes, including the loss of loved ones, putting them at a higher risk of mental health concerns. 

Knowing the Signs of Mental Health Issues in Seniors

Detecting the signs of mental health issues in seniors is crucial. When a person has a mental health issue, they may become ill. The mental health problem will worsen their illness while slowing their recovery. As a result, seniors may find they can no longer do things they enjoy or care for themselves without help. Identifying the mental health issue early will allow them to get the treatment they need. 

Warning signs include a change in the person’s sleeping habits or anger and irritability. Unexplained fatigue and a loss of energy are additional signs the senior may be struggling mentally. Some seniors choose to engage in high-risk activities, as they place less value on their lives. 

The senior may no longer keep up with their physical appearance or they might stop caring for the home and yard. This is particularly concerning when the change is drastic in a short period. The family needs to learn what is leading to these changes. 

When a senior expresses suicidal thoughts, the family must step in immediately. As mentioned, seniors have the highest suicide rate today. Families must take this seriously and get help for the seniors in this situation.

The senior may express these thoughts in various ways, such as saying they are now worthless or helpless. They may also feel guilty for no reason. This could lead to them being unable to share positive emotions. They give up. A senior wellness program can be of great help to these individuals. 

Substance abuse is of concern at any age. When a senior becomes addicted to a substance, the family must get them help right away. The substance of choice could do significant damage to their physical health and compound their mental health issues.

Other signs the senior is struggling mentally include frequent physical complaints, anger, irritability, and social withdrawal. They may no longer be able to handle their finances, or they could suffer from short-term memory problems.

Some seniors become confused or disoriented, while others lose weight rapidly. Any change in the senior’s behavior should be investigated to learn the underlying cause. 

How Can Seniors Be Helped When They Suffer from a Mental Illness? 

Families and staff members in Assisted Living and Memory Care communities need to monitor seniors for changes in behavior. They cannot dismiss these changes as part of the normal aging process because oftentimes they aren’t. 

When a change is noticed, the first thing the family or staff members should do is speak with the senior. They may have a reasonable explanation for the change. This conversation might be enough to put everyone’s mind at ease. Talking with others about any challenges they are facing could get the senior back on track. 

Talk with the medical team. The changes could be the result of a change in medication or an undiagnosed illness the senior has. For example, seniors who have a urinary tract infection (UTI) often show signs of delirium or confusion and their behavior changes. With prompt treatment, the UTI can be cleared, and the senior should return to normal behavior. 

The medical team will order tests to rule out any physical conditions that could lead to these changes. Once they have done so, the next step may be to have the senior see a geriatric psychiatrist. This medical professional will determine the underlying cause of the changes and help the patient get on the road to recovery. 

Seniors need help at times. Family and staff members at senior living communities need to recognize this and monitor seniors closely for changes. Any change should not be ignored or attributed to the aging process. Learn what is actually going on to provide seniors with the care and support they need. 

About Chelsea Senior Living:

Chelsea Senior Living strives to provide a home for seniors in need of help with daily living activities. Resents are treated with respect and dignity while being given a place where they can be safe, comfortable, and secure. Every resident receives personalized support and integrated care, so they can thrive.