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Which Mental Health Issues Do Seniors Face Most Often?

By Patricia Schumacher, 9:00 am on

The physical body isn’t the only thing affected by age. The mind can be equally impacted during the later years of life. There isn’t a single most common mental disorder in elderly people, and stats can vary depending on the sources cited. That being said, depression and anxiety-related disorders tend to affect seniors the most, which is why we’ll focus on these types of mental health issues.

Depression

According to the National Institute on Aging, depression is a common mental disorder in elderly people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes depression may affect nearly 14 percent of seniors under certain circumstances. However, depression isn’t a normal part of aging, although it can seriously affect everything from mood and mental clarity to cognitive and digestive health and sleep habits.

Depression in seniors is sometime “sneaky” in the sense that symptoms may not be all that obvious at first. For example, your senior loved one may experience issues such as decreased energy, fatigue, increased aches and pains, unexplained weight loss or gain, or changes in sleep habits. These vague symptoms might be initially assumed to be related to other health problems or associated with aging.

Treatment of depression in older adults often involves a combination of medication, therapy, and appropriate lifestyle adjustments. Preventive measures that could reduce depression in seniors include:

• Regular exercise
• Daily forms of mental stimulation, such as doing word puzzles, reading, or enjoying a hobby
• A nutrient-rich balanced diet
• Companionship from other seniors, family members, or in-home caregivers

For families living in Rhode Island, respite care can be a wonderful solution when their aging loved ones need companionship and socialization a few hours a week or just need minor assistance with daily household tasks. At Home Care Assistance, we thrive on helping seniors maintain their independence while living in the comfort of home.

Anxiety and Stress

According to the Geriatric Mental Health Foundation, anxiety disorders in seniors often go undiagnosed. Phobias, or unnatural fears of certain things, situations, or places, are considered the most typical type of anxiety likely to affect elderly people. Seniors can also be affected by increased stress and worry. Contributing factors to anxiety and stress issues in seniors include:

• Health-related concerns
• The loss of a loved one
• A family history of susceptibility to anxiety and stress
• Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders

Your loved one’s anxiety may be relieved by having the help of an in-home caregiver. Many older adults are choosing to age in place, and some need a helping hand to continue living at home safely and comfortably. Luckily, there is professional senior home care Rhode Island seniors can trust and rely on.

Some older adults develop a heightened sense of anxiety and stress because of limitations with mobility or concerns about sustaining another injury if they’re already recovering from one. According to the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry, related mental disorders that could affect elderly people include:

• Social anxiety disorder
• Generalized anxiety disorder
• Post-traumatic stress disorder
• Obsessive-compulsive disorder
• Panic disorder

As with depression, treatment for anxiety disorders in elderly individuals often involves therapy, medication, and management techniques. Some seniors also benefit from added support from family caregivers, other family members, and friends.

In some situations, older adults respond well to adjustments to their daily routines. For example, if your loved one has an irrational fear of falling, you can remove fall hazards from the home, get a medical alert device he or she can press for immediate assistance, and talk to his or her doctor about appropriate assistance devices.

Seniors can face a variety of challenges as they age, many of which can be mitigated with the help of professional in-home caregivers who provide high-quality home care services. Trust Home Care Assistance to help your elderly loved one age in place safely and comfortably. Reach out to one of our Care Managers today at (401) 284-0979 to learn more about our high-quality home care.