Healthy Tips for Seniors: Mental Health Awareness
Just as physical health is important for one’s overall well being, mental health plays an important role as well. Often mental health is something that many do not like to talk about, and therefore will delay getting help. It is estimated that 20% of people age 55 years or older experience some type of mental health concern. That is roughly 1 in 5 individuals over the age of 55. Addressing any potential mental health issues can improve your or your loved one’s quality of life.
Older adults are more likely to report physical symptoms rather then psychiatric symptoms, and will often seek care from their primary physician more often than from a psychiatrist/psychologist. Knowing risk factors that can play a role in mental health, can aid in identifying symptoms quicker and receiving the appropriate care. Risk factors that contribute to Mental illness for older adults include:
- Chronic Pain/chronic illness : dealing with a chronic condition can lead to depression and anxiety as it can cause frustration due to increasing difficulty in enjoying day-to-day activities.
- Physical impairments/physical disabilities: this can cause a decrease in functionality making it difficult for one to maintain independence in the home setting.
- Major life changes and grief: depression can result from the grief process of losing a spouse, friend, or family. Sudden relocation such as to an assisted living facility or moving out of state can lead into depression as well.
- Social isolation and loneliness: a decrease in social activity can occur in individuals living at home alone or in a long term care facility.
- Alcohol or substance abuse: the use of alcohol or other substances can result in chemical brain changes that can result in illness such as alcohol induced dementia.
Mental health just as any other illness can be detected by changes in behaviors. Symptoms can include, but are not limited to:
- Changes in appearance or dress
- Confusion, disorientation, problems with concentration or decision making
- Decrease or increase in appetite
- Feelings of worthlessness, inappropriate guilt, helplessness; thoughts of suicide
- Memory loss, especially recent or short-term memory problems
- Loss of interest in activities that used to be enjoyable
- Unexplained fatigue, energy loss or sleep changes
If you experience any changes or note any changes in your loved one, don’t hesitate to speak with your healthcare provider. Mental illness can be managed just like any other illness, via therapy and/or medication. Senior Allegiance is one of the few agencies that provide psychiatric nursing via our home health services. Our psychiatric nurse Dina Gudas has helped multiple residents here are Treemont. Our Medical Director (Dr. Zaharia), through the Truman Physician group, also works hand in hand with a psychiatrist (Dr. Merkl) who does in home visits only at the Treemont campus. Also, with Senior Allegiance Personal care services, you are able to get assistance with your ADL’s, encouragement to get to meals and activities, as well as a companion to provide assistance to you or your loved one as your health needs change. This is a great service for Treemont residents that enables them to live in an independent living setting as long as possible.
Also always remember to consult with your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.