HomeMental HealthMental Health in Older Adults: Overview, Importance & Factors

Mental Health in Older Adults: Overview, Importance & Factors

Although societal norms tend to dictate otherwise, older adults, aged above 60 years, are an integral part of society. They are valuable family members, part of the workforce, and participate in communities as volunteers. While older adults tend to have relatively balanced mental health, a sizeable portion of the population face the risk of developing various mental and neurological disorders. Apart from mental health disorders, senior citizens are also susceptible to developing other health conditions. Since it can be a trying time for many, it is essential to keep elderly mental health at the forefront while caring for senior citizens.

Why Is Elderly Mental Health Important?

Elderly mental health needs to be prioritised because the global population is aging at a rapid rate. By 2050, the ratio of the world’s senior citizens is estimated to double to over 20%. In numerical terms, this jump indicates the demographics to swell to 2 billion senior citizens over 60 years. To ensure that such a large portion of the world’s population is looked after, it is important to pay attention to the mental health of senior citizens.
Studies have shown that more than 20% of adults above the age of 60 suffer from neurological and mental disorders. In contrast to the high amounts of older people suffering from mental health issues, they are largely left undiagnosed by medical specialists. Additionally, the taboo around topics make it challenging for the elderly to seek support for the same.

Factors Contributing To Problems Related To Senior Citizen Mental Health

While in general, various factors contribute to mental health issues, seniors may face additional stressors associated with aging. For instance, one of the primary stressors related to aging that can impact mental health for seniors is the loss in capacity and deterioration of functional ability. Elderly people may also face chronic pain, reduced mobility, and other illnesses for which they might require lifetime support.

In addition to physical conditions, elderly people also have to deal with events that leave a psychological impact such as grief, low socio-economic conditions due to retirement and so on. If they have physical health issues, like heart conditions, their mental health can be significantly affected. Also, the elderly are susceptible to abuse of all kinds, leaving them open to development or exacerbation of mental health issues.

Mental Health Issues Commonly Affecting Senior Citizens

When it comes to old people’s mental health, seniors are as susceptible to mental health issues as those occurring in individuals of other ages. However, while certain mental health issues occur only among elders, others are more commonly found.

They are as follows:

  • Dementia: This is a condition that is usually progressive and chronic in nature. It triggers weakening memory, deterioration in cognitive function like thinking, impacts behaviour and reduces an individual’s competence to execute regular activities. Although not predominantly associated with aging, the condition tends to affect mostly older people.
  • Depression: Overall, depression is a condition that can cause immense suffering and have a profound impact on daily life. Studies have shown that depression does occur in large sections of the elderly population and often goes undiagnosed and overlooked while they seek primary care. This is because the symptoms of depression often overlap with various other problems faced by the elderly.

While these are the two more commonly found mental health issues amongst the seniors, they are not exempt from suffering from other issues too. To ensure that old people’s mental health is not neglected, health professionals needs to provided better training. Age-friendly services and environments need to be normalised and there should be increased emphasis on prevention and management of age-associated illnesses.

Mental Health In Older Adults FAQs

What is the most common mental health problem in older persons?

The two most commonly occurring mental health issues faced by the elderly are dementia and depression.

What are the signs of mental illness in the elderly?

While dementia manifests as memory loss, difficulty concentrating, confusion, mood swings and so on, depression shows up as lower mood levels, sadness, emptiness, lack of pleasure in activities, and so on. Since signs of mental illness in the elderly can often look like symptoms of other health problems, it is best to see a medical experts whenever possible.

Why is mental health in elderly important?

Not only are the elderly valuable members of society, but they also comprise a significant proportion of the world’s population. Thus, it becomes important to prioritise their mental health.

What causes mental illness in the elderly?

Just like other individuals suffering from mental illnesses, the old people’s mental health is affected by various factors. While some conditions are a result of aging, others can occur due to genetic predisposition, health problems, traumatic events, abuse, and so on.

About The Author

Dr.William Lewis Aliquam sit amet dignissim ligula, eget sodales orci. Etiam vehicula est ligula, laoreet porttitor diam congue eget. Cras vestibulum id nisl eu luctus. In malesuada tortor magna, vel tincidunt augue fringilla eget. Fusce ac lectus nec tellus malesuada pretium.

MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine & Bachelor of Surgery) Gold Medalist (2009-2015) M.D In General Medicine (2016-2019), CCID (Infectious Diseases)

PG Diploma In Clinical Endocrinology v& Diabetes, Clinical Associate in Non-Invasive Cardiology

Dr.William Lewis Aliquam sit amet dignissim ligula, eget sodales orci. Etiam vehicula est ligula, laoreet porttitor diam congue eget. Cras vestibulum id nisl eu luctus. In malesuada tortor magna, vel tincidunt augue fringilla eget. Fusce ac lectus nec tellus malesuada pretium.

MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine & Bachelor of Surgery) Gold Medalist (2009-2015) M.D In General Medicine (2016-2019), CCID (Infectious Diseases)

PG Diploma In Clinical Endocrinology v& Diabetes, Clinical Associate in Non-Invasive Cardiology

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