These statistics further affirm the need for both effective mental and physical health care for senior citizens.
A study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that approximately 20% of individuals over the age of 55 experience some form of mental illness, such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression and cognitive issues.
Amongst the above-mentioned mental health concerns, depression is the most common disorder experienced by seniors, and unfortunately, is the least recognized. Depression has a major impact on the health of these individuals and can adversely aggravate already existing physical conditions. Fortunately, the said study also states that depression is treatable in 80% of the cases. Regrettably, depressive disorders are widely ignored in older adults and are either undertreated or overlooked.
Senior citizens with mental health conditions are more inclined to have poor functioning skills and find carrying out day-to-day living cumbersome and challenging. They are also less likely to seek out medical services to improve their health and outlook on life.
Many social, biological and situational factors also greatly influence a senior’s mental health. Life situations like retirement, the death of a loved one, physical disability, change in financial status, poor health, etc. characterize a senior’s life. These issues can also result in loneliness, isolation, and loss of independence, which are major sources of psychological distress.
Additionally, according to evidence collected by the World Health Organization, 1 in 10 seniors are subject to elder abuse. Abandonment, neglect, and abuse lead to loss of dignity and respect which can compound the psychological breakdown in the elderly.
Loved ones and caregivers of senior individuals should be aware of signs that suggest a deterioration in their mental health and take immediate action to help them. Ways you can help as a caregiver:
- Spend quality time with the senior by visiting them as often as you can. If you cannot visit them, stay in touch via the phone or emails.
- Meal times are the hardest time of the day for seniors; encouraging them to eat with a friend or family member would help. Also, listening to the radio or watching television helps them get over the loneliness during meal times.
- Encourage them to keep busy; sign up for a class to learn something new, work on a favorite hobby, join a book or bingo club, or find volunteer opportunities that will help them find meaning in their life.
- Exercising is both physically and emotionally beneficial for seniors. If their health permits, exercises like swimming and walking can be a big booster; even a simple walk around the neighborhood can be very refreshing.
- Mind exercises such as reading and solving puzzles can keep their mind occupied and keep depressive thoughts away.
- Getting a good night’s sleep also goes a long way in ensuring good mental health. Avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bedtime can help the senior get some quality sleep.
- Healthy eating habits will also ensure that the senior is getting proper nutrition and have a positive impact on their mental health. Avoiding too much sugar and refined carbs and eating every few hours will help them stay positive and avoid mood swings. Encouraging the senior to cook and eat healthily or arranging healthy meals if the senior is disabled will be a great help.
Help For Depression
If depression persists in a loved one in spite of all your efforts, therapy or counseling is recommended, as it addresses the underlying causes of depression rather than the symptoms. Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel and act. The state of our mental health also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and how we make choices in our everyday lives. Mental health issues can negatively affect our lives, and our expert team at The Meadows is here to help.
The Meadows treatment center is an excellent place to seek help for your loved one. The therapists and counselors here are well trained and extremely competent and capable in helping your loved one improve their mental health and rebuild their lives once again. Please call 800-244-4949 to learn more about our depression treatment program.