What Mental Health Issues Are Common In The Elderly Population?

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In today’s age and time, between dealing with the world’s chaos and its issues, we often forget to take care of our own well-being, especially our mental health. It is essential that we nurture our emotional, psychological, and social condition, as together they influence the way we think, feel, and behave. 

With our world’s population growing at a fast pace, we now have over two billion people aged at sixty years and above In one of their surveys, The World Health Organization declared that over twenty-percent of these adults face mental health issues. 

While dementia and depression are the most common mental illnesses present, anxiety disorders and substance abuse disorders have been found to account for almost three-percent and one-percent of the cases, respectively.  

Older adults suffering from mental health issues are often overlooked, which leads to later difficulties in their diagnosis. 

It’s important to be aware that adults often face different issues at once, which can all combine to severely alter their well-being and give rise to chronic illnesses. 

However, with adequate information and precautions, we can assess these mental health issues at their roots. This would help to provide treatment at the right time to ensure their safety.

Read ahead to learn what mental health issues are common in the elderly population and what you can do to improve their lifestyles.

Symptoms Of Mental Health Issues

As the population ages, acute health problems are bound to occur. However, persistent cognitive issues are quite different and can prove to be critical issues if not taken care of. 

Following are some of the general symptoms that you can look out for and stop them from developing into severe mental health risks. 

  1. Changes in day-to-day behavior; the way they dress, react, or conduct routine tasks.
  2. Occasional forgetfulness, confusion, or problems with decision making.
  3. Significant weight changes based on differences in their eating habits.
  4. Lack of willfulness to engage in activities that make them happy or persistence of a sad mood for more than two weeks.
  5. Suicidal thoughts or feelings of helplessness and guilt. 
  6. Issues in retaining short term memories.
  7. New physical problems such as aches, diarrhea, which haven’t occurred before. 
  8. Withdrawal from engaging in social activities and behaving distantly.
  9. Issues conducting previously trained tasks such as basic math or cooking. 
  10. Fatigue, amnesia, lack of energy.

While these are some primary symptoms that you can keep an eye out for, it is advisable to conduct routine checks with family doctors and psychologists.  

Common Mental Health Issues In The Elderly Population

1. Dementia

Dementia is generically known as a memory loss syndrome and usually progresses into a chronic illness. Dementia also causes a hindrance in cognitive abilities, which in turn hampers their capacity to perform everyday tasks.

The World Health Organization has estimated that around fifty-million adults worldwide are suffering from dementia. The numbers are projected to reach eighty-two million in 2030, and one hundred and fifty-two million in 2050.

An illness where you progress towards losing your memory, is enough to break the will power of any individual. Living with an inevitable reality that you would soon cease to remember your loved ones, is something no one deserves.

Dementia patients need to be surrounded in positive areas filled with love and support. It is vital to help them in every step of the way to improve their lifestyle and to keep their hopes up.

Dementia is usually found amongst the elderly and can affect their lives to a considerable extent. If you know someone suffering from dementia, you can help improve their lifestyle by assisting them in exercising, reading books, or even engaging in social activities.

2. Depression

Major Depressive Disorder is diagnosed when an individual experiences feelings of sadness, loss, anger, or frustration, which interfere with their everyday life, for two weeks or longer. The disorder is also characterized by dysfunctional moods. 

The exact cause of depression hasn’t been determined. However, researchers believe that it is caused by chemical changes in the brain, or triggered by certain stressful events, or can even be a likely combination of both.

Depression can be genetic, and at the same time, it can also occur if there is no family history of the illness. 

There are various factors that may play a role in depression, such as alcohol, drug abuse, or certain medical conditions including under-active thyroid, cancer, long-term pain, etc. Medications such as steroids or sleeping pills can also be a factor. 

Some of the common side-effects of these medications are insomnia, appetite disturbance, loss of energy, feelings of worthlessness, suicidal thoughts, and lack of concentration, which could lead to a depressive disorder. 

Therefore, it is vital to be aware of what medicines the senior members are taking and look out for any possible side-effects. 

In order to help a person suffering from an acute or chronic depressive disorder, you can encourage them to engage in activities that they used to enjoy previously. You can even occasionally gift them things that they’d like, to uplift their mood, and show your support by being there for them. 

Conclusion  

 It is vital to be aware of what mental health issues are common in the elderly population, so that they can be provided with aid whenever needed.

A friendly and supportive environment is the first step to fighting mental health illnesses. While depression and dementia are most commonly found amongst adults, various other issues go overlooked. 

The elderly constitute a major part of our society and have  significantly contributed to the formation of our traditions, social institutions, and workforce. As people age, paying attention to both their physical and mental health is equally significant. 

Whether it is someone in your family, social circle or work environment, it is important to be aware about the mental health conditions of the people we care about. 

Hence, be kind and supportive towards people facing mental health issues and help them, in whichever little way you can, to help them overcome their illnesses.