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How Is Mental Health Affected by the Aging Process?

By Patricia Schumacher, 9:00 am on

When you think about aging, your first thought might be about how it makes someone feel physically. Older adults do tend to begin to experience more physical problems as they age, but they can also develop mental health changes that need to be addressed in their care plans. Understanding more about how aging affects mental health can explain some things about your senior loved one’s changing behavior while also giving you a way to anticipate his or her needs.

Age-Related Cognitive Disorders Affect Moods & Behavior

Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s, and other conditions that originate in the brain can dramatically change how your loved one feels and behaves. Memory loss often creates feelings of frustration, and your loved one may also become demoralized due to physical changes that limit his or her abilities. You may notice your loved one acting out when he or she cannot make a meal or get dressed independently. Noting these frustrations can help you identify areas where your loved one needs assistance. Your loved one might also need accommodations to help him or her manage emotional disruptions that occur due to decreased cognitive function. For example, you should find ways to distract your loved one if he or she begins to experience sundowning.

Caring for a senior loved one can be challenging for families who don’t have expertise or professional training in home care, but this challenge doesn’t have to be faced alone. Family caregivers can turn to Rhode Island Home Care Assistance for the help they need. We provide high-quality live-in and respite care as well as comprehensive Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care.

The Frequency of Needing to Manage Grief and Loss Increases

Older adults experience loss more frequently due to the higher rates of mortality among people over the age of 65. Whether your loved one loses a spouse or a former colleague, he or she must work through the stages of grief to find ways to manage emotionally. Your loved one might also experience grief for a pet or distant friend that seems stronger than what you might expect. This is because unaddressed grief can often build up with each new loss. Help your loved one find sources of support, such as a personal companion, that can provide an outlet for expressing his or her feelings.

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.

Isolation Raises the Risk of Depression

Aging often means living alone for seniors who lose spouses and choose not to remarry or move in with other people. Aging in place has its advantages, such as being able to stay independent. However, it can also create situations that place your loved one at higher risk for depression. Look out for signs your loved one is becoming isolated, such as talking more about television shows than personal experiences with other people. If your loved one cannot drive, this could be another factor that influences his or her level of isolation. Find ways to expand your loved one’s world, such as helping him or her get to and from local senior events.

Chronic Pain Reduces Happiness

Getting older can be a painful experience for seniors with arthritis, back injuries, and other conditions that cause chronic pain. In these cases, physical health influences mental health. Being in pain might make your loved one lose satisfaction with life, and he or she may gradually reduce his or her daily activities to compensate for the discomfort. Try to find enjoyable activities that help your loved one handle the mental effects of living with chronic pain. Even doing a puzzle with a home caregiver could keep your loved one distracted so he or she feels better emotionally.

Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same type of senior home care. You can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide individualized care plans to meet your elderly loved one’s unique care needs. Our holistic Balanced Care Method was designed to help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and our Cognitive Therapeutics Method offers mentally stimulating activities that can stave off cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia. Trust your loved one’s care to the professionals at Home Care Assistance. Reach out to one of our compassionate Care Managers today at (401) 284-0979.