Hospice Nurse visiting an elderly male patient

Is It Just a Case of the Blues? Mental Illness in Seniors Is More Common Than You May Think!

In one’s older years, it is common to be dealing with sleeping problems, fatigue or loss of appetite. And often, they’re written off as just that. Yet for around 8 million older adults over age 65, these symptoms are suggestive of something a lot more than normal aging – they’re signs of mental illness in seniors. And only a small number are getting the available treatment which could substantially enhance their overall quality of life.

Mental illness in seniors is usually unnoticed, for a variety of reasons. For some, there’s a stigma that comes with admitting to and searching for help for mental and emotional concerns. For other individuals, the assumption is that the common outward indications of mental illness and aging go together and really should simply be accepted. And in some cases, mental illness signs mirror medication side effects.

Nevertheless, it’s important for families to seek out professional health care assistance if they notice any of the following types of behaviors in their senior loved ones:

  • Anxiousness
  • Personality or mood changes
  • Changes in desire for formerly enjoyed activities
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Alterations in eating patterns
  • Difficulty with concentration and memory
  • Depression

Unfortunately, as few as 7 percent of older adults age 65 and over who potentially have some kind of mental illness are actually receiving treatment, as indicated by research by the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

Dr. Susan W. Lehmann, clinical director of the division of geriatric psychiatry and neuropsychiatry and director of the Geriatric Psychiatry Day Hospital at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine clarifies, “Indeed, compared with younger adults and middle-aged adults, adults over age 65 were much less likely to be asked by their primary care physician if they felt tense or anxious and were much less likely to be referred by their primary care physician for mental health specialty care.”

The good thing is, you can find effective treatment options for mental illness in seniors. The first step would be to talk to the senior’s primary care physician, who’s able to recommend the best medication and/or therapeutic options to consider. Comprehensive Home Care can also help by escorting the senior to medical appointments and counseling sessions, picking up prescriptions and providing reminders, and serving as a caring companion to share in conversations and also to pick up on any changes which will indicate the necessity for further assistance. Contact Comprehensive Home Care, top providers of the highest quality companion care Charlotte has to offer, by calling us at 704-333-5214 or use our contact form to find out more.