10 Things to Consider About Mental Health and Aging

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Did you know that one in five aging adults experience mental health concerns that are not associated with aging, according to the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors? Common mental health concerns in aging adults are anxiety or mood disorders including depression. These types of disorders respond well to medication but unfortunately many of these cases go undiagnosed as well as untreated due to not seeking treatment. Here are a few things to consider regarding your aging loved one and their mental health.

1. Contrary to most people’s thinking mental health issues are not a natural part of aging. One in four adults has a diagnosable mental disorder while about 6% of aging adults have a diagnosable depressive illness.

2. 80% of aging adults recover from depression after they received treatment that included both psychotherapy and anti-depressant medication.

3. Just like physical health is important so is your mental health. Good mental health positively affects a person’s overall feeling of wellbeing. While untreated mental health disorders can possibly lead to poor quality of life, substance abuse, and increased mortality. Mental illness can greatly slow down the healing process from a physical illness.

4. Reading, walking and socializing are activities that healthy aging adults enjoy. Exercising your mind through reading, your body through physical activity and making social connections like the ones aging adults make while in assisted living in Forsyth County NC will all help to contribute to a person’s mental health.

5.  An aging person can be at risk for mental health problems regardless of their history. Chronic mental illness and problems can appear later in life as a result of stroke, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, arthritis, diabetes as well as medications. This can lead to aging adults abusing medication, alcohol or drugs even without a history of substance abuse.

6. Sadly, aging adults have the highest rate of suicide in our country. Adults 85 and older have the highest rate while those who are 75 to 84 have the second highest. There is one suicide for every four attempts among adults 65 and older compared to one suicide for every 20 attempts for other age groups.

7.  It is time to call a health care professional when you observe the following symptoms in your loved one.
•    Continued sadness that lasts longer than a couple of weeks.
•    Frequent trouble remembering things.
•    Ongoing worries about money, family and health issues.
•    Consistent trouble sleeping or concentrating.
•    Frequently feeling confused in familiar places.
•    Drinking more than one alcoholic drink daily or taking more medication than prescribed.

8.  Medicare covers 80% of physical health problems while it only covers 50% of mental health problems. This can be a barrier for many aging adults in seeking help and treatment. 63% of aging adults with a mental disorder did not receive the services they needed and 75% of aging adults who commit suicide have visited a primary care physician within a moth of their suicide.

9.  Misdiagnosis and avoidance are common. Primary care physicians fail to diagnose depression 50% of the time while only half of aging adults who discuss a specific mental health problem with their physician receive any treatment.

10.  Stress can affect mental health. As we age our bodies are changing, family and friendships change. Living situations are also changing like moving into a trusted assisted living in Forsyth County NC. All of these changes whether positive or negative should be considered in your loved ones’ treatment. It is also important to look at possible drug interactions and side effects that can affect behavior. Often times alleviating stressors like transportation will help your loved one improve their outlook and mood as well as their community connections.

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