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As many as one in five older adults experience mental health concerns that are not a normal part of aging – the most common of which are anxiety or mood disorders including depression. In most cases, these mental health issues respond well to treatment. Sadly, far too often older adults do not seek or receive the help they need. Undiagnosed and untreated, mental health illnesses have serious implications for older adults and their loved ones. That’s why it’s important to understand the warning signs. Isolation, loss of appetite, excessive sleeping,
Mental health problems are not a normal part of aging. While older adults may experience many losses, deep sadness that lingers may signal clinical depression. Similarly, an anxiety disorder is different from normal worries. Mental health is as important as physical health. Good mental health contributes greatly to an overall feeling of well-being. Untreated mental health disorders in older adults can lead to diminished functioning, substance abuse, poor quality of life, and increased mortality. Research shows mental illness can slow healing from physical illnesses.
Healthy older adults can continue to thrive, grow, and enjoy life! Reading, walking, and socializing are just a few of the activities that many individuals enjoy at any age. Exercising your mind and body, and maintaining social connections are good for your mental health, too.
Mental health problems are a risk for older adults, regardless of history. While some adults go through life managing a chronic mental illness, mental health problems can also appear late in life. Sometimes mental health deteriorates in response to a stroke, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, arthritis, or diabetes, and even some medications. Older adults without a history of substance abuse may abuse medications, alcohol, or drugs.
Older adults have unique mental health care needs. Changing bodies and chemistry, changes in family and friendships, and changes in living situations all have an effect on mental health and need to be considered in treatment. Sometimes helping solve basic problems, like transportation, can lower stress, improve community connections, and improve outlook and mood. If older adults take several medications for a variety of illnesses, drug interactions and side effects can affect mood and behaviour.
If you think you or someone you know may have a mental or emotional problem, it is important to remember there is hope and help.
If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, please contact community crisis services at:
or go to your nearest emergency department.