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What Are the Most Common Mental Health Concerns in Seniors?

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Mental health is an important part of living a good life. When your mental health is suffering, it can be hard just to get out of bed.

As we get older, it’s important to monitor our mental health. Changes in our lives can take a toll on our minds and bodies. There are ways to promote strong mental health at every age, but especially in seniors. 

Understanding Mental Health

Mental health has become increasingly common, especially among seniors. 

Over 20% of adults aged 60 and over suffer from a mental or neurological disorder. The most common mental health concerns among seniors are dementia, depression, anxiety, and addiction, but mental health disorders can vary by person. 

Being able to identify the signs and symptoms of mental health issues is the first step in getting the right help.

Signs & Symptoms of a Mental Health Issue

Some signs and symptoms of mental or neurological issues include:

  • Fatigue
  • Self-isolation
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Substance abuse
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Frequent confusion
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Often feeling sad/down
  • Detachment from reality
  • Uncontrollable fear/worry
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Inability to cope with stress
  • Loss of appetite or binge eating
  • Excessive anger, hostility, or violence

Mental Health Concerns in Seniors

a senior woman sits on a couch with a concerned look on her face

Studies have shown that mental health is becoming a significant concern for older adults. 

Depression in particular is very common among seniors. Losing loved ones, significant lifestyle changes, feelings of loneliness, and a loss of independence can all be major contributing factors to the development of depression among seniors.

It’s estimated that 20% of people aged 55 years and up will experience some type of mental health issue. Not only do mental health issues impact your daily life, but they can become life-threatening if untreated. 

Who Is at Risk

While mental health is important for everyone, there are some factors that can make a person more at risk of developing an issue. These factors include:

  • Stress
  • Medications
  • Chronic pain
  • Long-term illness
  • Substance abuse
  • Memory loss disorders
  • Poor diet or malnutrition
  • Illness or loss of a loved one
  • Physical disability or loss of mobility

Getting Help

It’s important to visit your doctor if you, or someone you love, are experiencing symptoms of a mental health issue. That being said, there are things you can do right now that promote strong mental health. 

Talk to Loved Ones

The best thing you can do for your mental health is to talk to someone you love and trust. Having even one person to confide in can remind you that you’re not alone. People care about you, love you, and want you to be happy and safe.

When we open up to someone close to us who we trust, we’re able to release any stress we were holding in. It’s important to have support and know that there are people who will be there for us. 

Pick Up a Hobby

Another great thing you can do to improve your mental health is to get into a hobby that you love and are passionate about. This can be anything that brings you joy.

Painting, gardening, swimming, board games, crafting, knitting, fishing; the list is really endless. Find something you love and spend time doing it. If you’re not sure where to start, this is a great time to try new things that interest you. 

Go for a Walk

Exercise is an effective way to get your blood pumping and endorphins going. Even light exercise, like walking, can help you feel rejuvenated and clear your mind. 

You should exercise every day, whether it’s a 30-minute walk, going for a swim, or practicing yoga. Do something you enjoy, and you’ll feel so glad you did.

Find a Therapist

Talk to your doctor about seeing a therapist. Sometimes, it’s easier to talk about personal issues with someone who is removed from your life. An objective professional can help you work through issues in a way that works for you. 

This can feel like a scary proposition, but the worst thing that could happen is you don’t really like the person you see and you try someone or something else. Your health is worth stepping outside of your comfort zone. 

Getting Support

One more thing you can do for yourself or someone you love is to seek extra support. Our team is here to help. Contact us today to learn more about how our communities can support you. 

Written by saranac

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