Almost 20% of the population over the age of 55 have encountered mental problems. It often looks like mental issues are inevitable with senior citizens, but that doesn’t need to be the case. Although very common, these difficulties can be avoided or successfully treated. On the other hand, if overlooked, they can cause serious complications which can even lead to death. Seniors rely on our aid and care, and we have to be there for them to help them understand their potential problems, but also to assist them in their efforts to get better.
Symptoms of mental problems are usually subtle, and we regularly attribute them to other health problems or lifestyle changes that the majority of older people experience. Sometimes we overlook the signs that are right in front of us, and our carelessness can have severe consequences. We have to be cautious because our elderly loved ones are often ashamed of their condition and they frequently remain silent about it. That’s why it’s on us, their closest family members, to notice if there are any changes in their behavior, and to ask for help as soon as we spot something unsettling. Today, we’ll talk about three of the most common senior mental health concerns.
Dementia is a decline in mental ability caused by the death of brain cells or the damage to parts of the brain in charge of thought processes. This condition affects concentration, memory, and problem-solving. People with dementia often seem lost or confused; they repeat the same actions since they can’t remember that they have already completed them. The good thing is that the changes in thinking are gradual, thereby it’s essential to make adjustments in the early stages of the disease.
If your family member suffers from dementia, you need to have in mind that constant surveillance will be required sooner or later. It’s best not to leave them alone, but you won’t be able to be there always because of your professional and personal reasons. Hence, help from somewhere else might be a good idea. Give a spare house key to the neighbor you trust, so someone can be around while you’re not. If you prefer professional assistance, there are many organizations that offer dementia care, and they will know how to handle the situation correctly.
This mood is associated with sleeping problems, a general feeling of sadness, loss of appetite, loss of energy, and inability to face everyday life. Depression can affect anyone, but seniors are more vulnerable to it. It usually occurs after mishaps like becoming widowed, physical disability, or a job loss.
Medications for depression are known to be effective, but being there for your closest one is a better remedy. Loneliness is very dangerous for a depressed person since it can make the problem more severe. For that reason, you need to talk to them, to show them that they can count on you and that there are many reasons to wake up with a smile every single morning. You should be there to support them, to motivate them to live a healthy life and help them find new interests.
Just a little inspiration will be enough for improvement. Still, to help someone beat depression, you must be persistent. Old habits and feelings can return in no time, so you need to make sure that they have truly recovered.
Anxiety is a mood disorder that very often accompanies depression. It’s a constant presence of worry or fear which, in most cases, interferes with performances at work, a person’s social life, and everyday activities. In a more advanced phase, an individual might start avoiding contact with people, afraid of judgment or embarrassment. Much like depression, anxiety is triggered by stressful events, but also traumas from childhood, alcohol and drugs abuse, or cardiovascular diseases.
Additionally, seniors can be diagnosed with related problems like phobia and panic disorder. Phobia is described as an extreme fear of something that poses no threat, while panic attacks happen suddenly and are followed by shaking, sweating, and rapid heartbeat. If you notice that a senior in your family is nervous without reason, has difficulties communicating with others, or suffers from chronic fatigue or poor sleep, you need to ask for help. Medications and psychotherapy are most effective, but your support is critical here too.
Mental problems are frequent in seniors. They can be caused by stressful events or by brain disorders. They can also be hard to notice because elderly people usually pay more attention to their physical health than to mental health. Therefore, it is of great significance to help your senior relative or friend if you spot any changes in behavior that might seem suspicious. Ask for professional assistance and be compassionate and attentive. Learn about ways you can help, be there for them because they deserve to enjoy their old age as much as anybody else.