Mental Health Awareness for Seniors
October 10th was World Mental Health Day, which makes this the perfect time to have the important conversation about mental health in older age. Mental health issues can occur at any point in life, but older age is a major risk factor in developing a mental illness. Older adults may experience life stressors common to all people, but also stressors that are more common in later life. But this does not mean that mental health challenges are a normal part of aging.
A healthy lifestyle can help to prevent the onset or worsening of mental health conditions, as well as chronic conditions like heart disease. For these reasons mental health is extremely important to a healthy lifestyle and should be one of the main focuses.
The stresses and changes that come with aging affect every senior differently. Loved ones and caregivers should be more empathic and observant of their senior loved one’s behaviors and emotional state.
Some of the most common warning signs of mental illness in seniors can include:
Noticeable changes in mood, energy level, or appetite
Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
Difficulty concentrating, feeling restless, or on edge
Ongoing headaches, digestive issues, or pain
A need for alcohol or drugs
Loneliness and depressive episodes that last for weeks
Rapid changes in mood, such as irritability, anger, and sadness
A gradual drop in performing daily tasks, such as eating, bathing, or attending gatherings
Feeling disconnected, anxious, and negative
Some of the major causes of mental health illnesses in older adults include:
A chronic disorder
A decline in their body’s functions (e.g., limited mobility, impaired vision, and hearing).
Loss of a loved one
Medication and illnesses that affect emotions, thoughts, and behavior.
There are things that can be done that may help. For example, finding a reason to laugh, going for a walk with a friend, meditating, or playing with a pet can go a long way in making a senior both physically and mentally healthy. Check with your doctor or a mental health professional if you have questions or concerns. Companionship is very important in older age, if you or your loved one are in need of someone to spend time with, our Care Partners can help.
The mental health of seniors is just as important as their physical well-being. It greatly influences their overall wellness. Aging should be a graceful transition that’s full of growth and enjoyment. Everyone can and should continue to thrive and enjoy life to its fullest!