Mental Health and AgingWhen it comes to entering our senior years, many people think of the ways in which our bodies may respond to the aging process.  It is not unusual for someone contemplating senior health to consider future significant differences in their physical and medical needs.  However, another area where those entering their retirement years can experience significant change is in their mental health.  Here are some areas to consider concerning mental health and aging.

Alzheimer’s and Dementia

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), an estimated that 20% of people 55 years or older experience some type of mental health concern.  These mental health conditions can range from anxiety and cognitive impairments, to mood disorders such as depression.  An increasing area of concern regarding seniors and mental health is the fact that people in this age group can develop Alzheimer’s disease as well as other forms of dementia.   While there is not a known cure for this condition, there are measures which can be taken to help alleviate the symptoms associated with it and ensure that a person is receiving proper care.  When you suspect your loved one has dementia, it is important to monitor their health and functioning and to communicate with their caregivers about how to best support their care.

Symptoms of Depression

Another mental health issue which can arise with the elderly population is depression.  Depression can be the result of chemical changes in the body and in many cases is a treatable condition.  It is important to be cognizant of signs of depression in your loved one such as changes in eating, sleeping, and grooming habits.  They may also lack energy or be extremely tearful.  Your loved one may also have anxiety which can manifest itself in terms of their being sleepless, frightened, or worried about matters which do not seem to warrant their level of concern.  If you note these signs or any others which cause you concern, it will be important to talk to your loved one about their condition and help them seek out the care of qualified medical and mental health professionals.

Social Isolation

One factor which may contribute to their depression or anxiety is the social isolation which can accompany aging.  It may be that their spouse has passed away or they have moved into a care facility and are no longer seeing friends and family as often as before.  Helping your loved ones see family and friends can reduce their depression and anxiety.  You may also take a few minutes to call your loved one each week.  This small gesture can make a world of difference in helping them feel less isolated.  Additionally, helping your loved one find community resources such as senior activity centers and mental health groups can help them make meaningful connections.

Like anything, the process of aging can bring challenges.  When those challenges concern a loved one’s mental health, it is important to recognize the signs and take action to get them the help they need.   By maintaining close contact with your loved one and being aware of their condition you can help ensure that they get the support they need to achieve positive mental health.

Our office understands and cares about the issues faced by today’s senior citizens and can help you connect with resources which may help. Please contact us online or by phone if we may be of assistance.

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