If we are young now then soon we are also going to get old. The human population around the world is aging rapidly and is expected to nearly double from 12% to 22% before 2050. It may be presumed that as we cross 60 years of existence, our life can take a toll on our brains.
Although older adults have good mental health, many still face the risk of developing mental disorders, neurological disorders or substance use problems, and other issues.
About 15% of adults aged 60 and above suffer from a mental disorder informs the World Health Organization on its website.
But sadly, many of such affected seniors do not receive treatment either out of shame or fear of what someone might say or they simply do not have access to the required medical help. In other words, there exists a stigma surrounding these conditions making people reluctant to seek help.
However, by gaining knowledge and keeping a weathered eye for symptoms, one can assess the safety and well-being of one’s senior loved ones. Consuming healthy food for the elders to keep them away from health issues.
Armed with the right information you can identify problems or mental health issues of seniors, gain an awareness of their emotional and mental health, and ensure they receive proper treatment within the necessary time.
Do Mental Health Issues Get Worse With Age?
Mental health issues need not be age-specific and aren’t a natural part of aging. Besides, it may be noted that more younger adults are affected by mental health disorders than the elderly folk. But that doesn’t mean the seniors are not susceptible. However, they most certainly are less likely to seek help or accept their condition.
Having said that, around 20% of seniors over the age of 60 suffer from a mental or a neurological disorder and 6.6% of all disability among seniors is due to the same reason. Some of the common neurological disorders affecting the Mental Health of Seniors are dementia and depression.
Around 5% and 7% of the world’s older population is affected by this. Besides, the elderly are also haunted by anxiety disorders and substance abuse. Unfortunately, a quarter of deaths among people aged above 60 are from self-harm.
What is the Most Common Mental Illness in the Elderly?
Several mental illnesses can affect the elderly but some of the most common mental illnesses in the elderly are depression, anxiety, and dementia.
As a matter of fact, clinical depression affects approximately 7 percent of the world’s aging population. Meanwhile, 3% of the elderly suffer from anxiety disorders and about 5% have Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
Some of the other mental health concerns in the elderly include bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, substance use problems, and self-harming behaviors. Around one percent of the aging population is presently struggling with substance abuse suggests WHO’s data and further claims that these problems are often overlooked in the elderly.
Symptoms of Mental Illness in the Elderly
Seniors or adults over the age of 60 are important for society. They have done their bit for the society and their experience and wisdom are essential for the further development of the society.
Hence, it is necessary to keep a close eye on symptoms of mental illness in the elderly while visiting your aging loved one. Quick spotting of signs assists in the quick provision of necessary medical help.
Just because the senior forgets stuff occasionally doesn’t mean they have an issue. Everyone tends to forget something every once in the while. But, persistent cognitive or memory loss, extreme anxiety, or long-term depression can be serious.
Hence, caregivers must keep a lookout for some typical warning signs that could indicate a mental health concern. Here are some of the symptoms of mental illness in the elderly that may be considered warning signs.
- Sudden changes in appearance or dress.
- Problems maintaining the yard.
- Problems with concentration or decision-making
- Confusion and disorientation.
- Changes in weight or a decrease or increase in appetite.
- Mood swings.
- Depressed mood lasting for more than 2 weeks.
- Feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt.
- Helplessness and suicidal thoughts.
- Short-term memory loss.
- Physical problems like aches, constipation, and similar other issues cannot be explained.
- Trouble working with numbers or handling finances.
- Changes in the sleep cycle and unexplained fatigue.
Risk Factors for Mental Health Problems
Stress can be experienced by anyone and older adults are no exception to this. Hence it is important to check the mental health of your aging loved ones, especially if they are not able to socialize like they used to do before or if they are living all by themselves.
Some of the risk factors for mental health problems in the elderly are Illness or loss of a loved one, long-term illness (e.g., cancer or heart disease), chronic pain Medication interactions, physical disability or loss of mobility, and physical illnesses that can affect emotion or memory, and malnutrition.