As you get older, your physical health changes. This transition can affect your mental health. It works both ways where mental and physical health will affect each other when one declines. Situations such as adjusting to a new living environment, adapting to new health issues, and having less independence will affect each person’s mental health in different ways. It is unfortunate that most of the mental health problems that a person experiences as they get older will go unnoticed. Oftentimes we just assume that behavioral changes are just a part of growing old. However, that is not completely the case. Older adults experiencing mental illness who are firm in their ways are also less likely to seek mental health care because of the stigma surrounding it.
Most Common Mental Health Problems for Aging Adults
Why Does it Occur in Older Generations?
Statistics show that there are over two billion individuals over the age of 60. That is a large portion of the population with unique needs when it comes to mental health care. Many of these people have experienced a lot in their lives that they may have never dealt with. Studies show that one in four adults experience problems with their mental health with the most common problems being depression and anxiety disorders.
One of the biggest problems that older generations have is dealing with dementia. Dementia is not a single disease; it’s an overall term — like heart disease — that covers a wide range of specific medical conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease.
With the rapid rate at which the world, technology, and beliefs change, it can be harder for older adults to keep up. Years of different challenges and adaptations to the world around them make keeping up very difficult. Stress and fatigue from a busy and active lifestyle over so many years also puts a strain on an individual, especially when their bodies are becoming physically weaker as they get older.
Causes of Mental Health Problems
There are a number of causes that can affect an older individual’s mental health and quality of life. Depression, Alzheimers, and anxiety are the top mental health problems that older adults can experience. All of these mental disorders can be caused by events and circumstances that they are in.
Events such as relocation or experiencing the loss of a loved one are common scenarios that older adults deal with. Older generations (those over 60 years old) have the highest suicide rate compared to any other age group. Loneliness and social isolation are big contributors to the mental health of older people as they have fewer social interactions with family members and friends compared to other generations.
Physical illnesses such as high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, and a weaker immune system are also linked to mental health problems in aging adults. Alzheimer’s disease and the decline in the person’s cognitive ability can frustrate aging adults because they can’t do as much as they used to.
Signs of Mental Health Problems
If you or a loved one is experiencing any symptoms of mental health struggles, get them the help they need. Signs of mental health problems include:
- Irregular sleeping patterns (too much or too little sleep).
- Constantly worrying and/or experiencing suicidal thoughts.
- Negative in thoughts and opinions. Also, easily irritated and or/angry.
- Consuming harmful substances on a regular basis. This is substance abuse.
What Can You Do For Help?
If you or a loved one is experiencing any mental health struggles, contact a mental health professional or a family member immediately. You do not have to feel like you are burdening anyone. You can also talk with your primary care doctor about how you are feeling. Your doctor will be able to advise you on any medication that can be taken, as well as where you can go to get professional mental health help. There is no shame in asking for help – the biggest shame is not asking for help.
Additional Information: Mental Health Resources for Older Adults – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
Nye Health Services | Independent & Assisted Living Communities
Nye Health Services is passionate about providing older adults with a wide range of wellness and health services that maximize health and well-being. If you are searching for a senior living community, explore one of our five locations in eastern Nebraska. Each campus provides award-winning health and wellness services, comfortable apartments and/or suites, and numerous amenities to help you live 2022 to the fullest! Contact us today to learn more about what sets Nye apart or to schedule a tour of a community near you!
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