Last Updated on March 29, 2022 by ashley.davis
Senior mental health is as important as anything else. Unfortunately, we often forget to take care of the cognitive health of the seniors. As a result, they end up feeling negative emotions and cannot find peace.
But what is senior mental health? Mental health in older adults includes their emotional, social and psychological well-being. If we do not take care of these sides, seniors will end up feeling unpeaceful and have many different mental problems. They can be depression, anxiety, sleep disorder and even suicidal thoughts.
So, you can imagine how much it is important to protect senior mental health. Our focus on this article is to provide ways caregivers can help seniors achieve peace of mind.
Key Facts about Senior Mental Health
Before we look into the ways to protect mental health issues in seniors, we need to know some facts. These will help you determine how important it is to help our seniors. Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions as well.
Mental illness is NOT normal in seniors
Everyone thinks that aging and mental health go side by side. But that is not true. Older adults are more prone to mental health problems. But it certainly isn’t a normal thing for people of any age.
Depression and dementia are the most common ones
Depression in seniors is one of the most common mental health issues. Many seniors also have dementia. And dementia can trigger different mental health problems, especially depression in older adults.
More than 15% seniors over 60 years of age battle different mental health problemsKey Fact
Suicide rates are higher among seniors
Suicide rates are extremely high among older adults. It has been found that seniors above 75 years are more prone to suicide. This is particularly concerning for senior men.
Old age can create a barrier to mental health treatment
Older adults also think that having cognitive impairment like depression and anxiety is normal. As a result, they do not seek support or treatment for these problems. Apart from that, the cost of treatment is also high. This brings fear to the mind of many seniors.
According to research by Cambridge University, around 50% of senior respondents never considered getting help for their mental health problemsKey Fact
Mental health illness is treatable
Regardless of the facts and situations, mental health illness in seniors can be treated. Early intervention and treatment are key to successfully curing mental health issues. We need to put more emphasis on this so that seniors can live peacefully in senior living communities.
– Loneliness and depression
– Rapid mood disorders
– Loss of appetite
– Insomnia and sleep disorders
– Isolation from social activities
– Feeling anxious, having panic attacks and thinking negativeCommon mental health problems among seniors
Early Symptoms of Mental Health Problems in Seniors
Caregivers and family members must keep a close eye on older adults. It will help you to detect the early symptoms of mental health disorders among them. Thus, you will figure out how to approach senior citizens with mental health problems. Here are 10 early signs of mental health disorder in older adults.
- Major changes in how seniors dress, appearance, and issues maintaining their homes.
- Problems with concentration, decision making and being confused and oriented.
- Change in appetite. They might start feeling a decrease or increase in hunger. As a result, you will notice weight changes.
- Depression that lasts more than 2 weeks.
- Feeling unworthy, lonely, guilty, helpless and suicidal.
- Short-term or long-term memory loss.
- Unexplainable physical issues like sudden pains, constipation and others.
- Withdrawing from social activities and losing interest in things they used to like doing before.
- Having trouble in handling technologies and numbers.
- Unexplainable loss of energy, feeling tired and sleep disorder.
Mental Health Risk Factors among Seniors
Seniors experience stress like most people, maybe even more! The older they get, it becomes more challenging for them to handle critical situations. They might find it difficult to cope up with emotional and physical changes. These are basically what triggers older adults’ mental health.
So, we need to look at the risk factors that can enhance mental health issues among seniors. Whenever they go through such situations, we need to put extra care towards them. Here are 7 risk factors that can trigger mental health disorders among seniors.
- Alcohol and substance abuse
- Dementia or Alzheimer’s
- Loss of a loved one
- Long-term illnesses like cancer or heart diseases
- Physical disability causing lack of mobility
- Physical illness affecting memory, mood, emotion and thoughts
- High doses of medications and poor diet
– Change in mood, energy and appetite
– Feeling tired and numb
– Difficulty sleeping
– Difficulty in concentrating
– Feeling more stressed and anxious
– Feeling angry and irritated
– Overthinking and suicidal thoughtsSigns of depression in seniors
10 Ways to Protect Senior Mental Health
Knowing how to care for seniors with mental health issues has become crucial by now. We’re sure you are looking for how you can protect senior mental health. So, here are 10 ways for seniors to boost their mental health.
Socialize and be a part
Senior care centers often organize different activities for older adults. You can convince them to be a part of those activities. Different crafts and hobby classes can keep them active and interested in lively functions.
Call friends and family
Staying connected with loved ones can provide peace of mind to seniors. As caregivers, we can organize regular video and audio calls. This can be with friends and family members. You can even teach them to use the internet and be on social media platforms.
Community group classes
Senior living communities organize different classes for seniors as well. For example, seniors can take part in learning a new language. Older adults may feel like going back to school with these classes. But they can help seniors learn newer things and find new groups of friends.
Play games with others
There are many games seniors can play with others. This can include chess, crossword puzzle, sudoku and many more. The games will help them socialize and keep their brains functioning. Also, seniors can interact with like-minded people over fun games.
Volunteer and make a difference
Seniors can be a part of local and online volunteer activities. These will make them feel more connected to the outside world. They will also be able to give something back to society at an old age. And volunteer activities can even work like medication for many seniors.
Involve in family gatherings
Caregivers need to make seniors involved in family gatherings and decisions. They can organize weekly visits to their family. And if there is a grandkid, seniors will greatly enjoy the company.
Learn about modern technologies
Technology can help keep seniors occupied with the world. Unfortunately, many seniors don’t know how to use modern gadgets. Caregivers can teach them the use of different devices specifically designed for older adults. This way, seniors will not feel incapable of learning modern things.
Use pet therapy
Pets can be beneficial for seniors. They can keep them happy, jolly and responsible for as long as possible. Also, older adults will remain calm, engaged, less depressed and less anxious with a pet always being there for them.
Connect with the spiritual world
Religion and meditation can help seniors to connect with the spiritual world. They can practice regular religious activities that will give them peace and calmness. Different meditations and yoga classes can also help in this matter.
Keep on moving
When the world feels like an inescapable place to live in, everyone just needs to keep on moving. This means that caregivers need always to keep seniors active. You can organize exercise and gym classes for them. Being physically active can help seniors achieve the peace of mind we all want!
So, now you know how to help with mental health problems for seniors. But, they are not as easy as it sounds. As caregivers, you will need to ensure that senior mental health is always protected.
Among the 10 ways, almost all of them are capable of providing seniors a peace of mind. That is the ultimate goal, right? We all want our loved ones to spend the final days of their lives with complete happiness and mental peace.