World Mental Health Day - What Mental Health Issues Affect Older Adults?

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World Mental Health Day - What Mental Health Issues Affect Older Adults?



Sit down on October 10th, World Mental Health Day, and look at some of the mental health issues affecting older adults. Your mom and dad may be dealing with at least one of them. Anxiety is one of the most prevalent, but depression is also common in old adults.

If you know the signs to look for, you're there to advocate for your parent. You can take your mom or dad to the doctor and support him/her while getting help. Here are the things you should know.

Anxiety

Anxiety is a common mental health issue that affects up to 20 percent of today's older adults. Excessive stress can lead to anxiety if the stress isn't managed properly. Watch for non-stop worrying about trivial things or worrying at a level that seems inappropriate.

If an anxiety attack hits, you might notice your parent cannot sit still, seems distant and hard to reach, has a rapid pulse, feels nauseous, feels dizzy, and may develop chest pain and numbness of the hands and feet.

Anxiety attacks may feel like a heart attack. Don't ignore it. Talk to a doctor for a diagnosis and treatment plan for your mom or dad.

Depression

Around 8 percent of today's older adults are depressed. It may be something that person has dealt with for much of his/her life. It could also be newer and follow being diagnosed with a chronic health condition like Alzheimer's or cancer. Depression can be treated through medications or therapy.

Watch for mood swings that last for weeks. If your parent sleeps a lot and doesn't want to get out of bed, that can be a sign of depression. Lack of enthusiasm in favorite activities, not wanting to go out, and physical pain are other signs.

Eating Disorders

Don't make the mistake of thinking that eating disorders are for young adults. There's an increasing number of older adults, especially women, who are developing eating disorders. Some older people becoming fixated on being thin, extreme dieting techniques, and other steps designed to lose weight fast.

Even if the fixation isn't on being thin, side effects of medications, being diagnosed with a chronic health condition, or depression may affect eating habits. Join your mom and dad for a meal as often as you can and see if they push food around the plate.

Does your parent seem to eat well but disappear into the bathroom right after a meal? It may be nothing, but it could be a sign of bulimia. Watch your parent's weight to see if there seems to be a steady or continuous loss.

Companionship services are important when your parent is depressed or dealing with anxiety and feeling alone. Home care is easily arranged and makes sure your mom or dad has someone to talk to, offer medication reminders, or join them on outings. Call a home care agency to make arrangements.

Sources:

https://www.cdc.gov/aging/pdf/mental_health.pdf
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/food-thought/201310/does-grandma-have-eating-disorder
https://www.aagponline.org/index.php?src=gendocs&ref=anxiety

If you or an aging loved one are considering senior care in Evergreen, CO, please contact the caring staff at SYNERGY HomeCare West Denver. Call today: (720) 263-6060.

Shanna Tourtlotte

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