As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the USA, about 20% of the old population in US alone are suffering from mental health disorders. The most unfortunate thing being that nearly one out of three of the elderly are not receiving any treatment.
With the coronavirus outbreak across the world, it is not more important than ever before to take good care of the aged and the loved ones. They are suffering from concerns and anxiety with the pandemic going beyond control. Moreover, the elderly population is also more susceptible to the disease and thus needs greater care. The need for physical distancing and isolation has further aggravated the issue of mental stress. Thus, the risk has increased and has taken a toll on the mental health condition of the seniors.
It is essential and imperative that we notice the early signs of elderly mental health issues. That’s the only way we will be able to better take care of them and in time.
Do Mental Health Issues Get Worse With Age?
Unlike other health related issues, mental health issues are not directly linked with the ageing process of a person. It is a result of multiple independent factors, most of which are associated with the surrounding as opposed to the ageing of the person. This is also the reason why it is prevalent in both young and adults, though it is found more in younger generation than the old as per the National Institute of Mental Health. However, seniors are less likely to seek health, making it a bigger issue.
Among the elderly, the more common mental issues are severe cognitive impairment or dementia. As per the Alzheimer’s Association almost 10% of the seniors, that’s about 5 million adults who are 65 or older, are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Furthermore, as per the CDC, up to 5% of the seniors aged 65 years or more and living in the community are suffering from mood disorders and depression. The figure goes up to 13.5% among the ones receiving healthcare or being hospitalized. These are often undiagnosed. Depression also often has anxiety to accompany with it. There are even cases of OCD, PTSD, phobias, hoarding syndrome, among the others.
10 Early Signs Of Elderly Mental Health Issues
You will notice that there are changes occurring with age. Occasional forgetfulness is something that’s natural and nothing to be much worried about. However, persistent cognitive or memory loss is a matter of serious concern and can be quite dangerous. Even in case of long-term depression or anxiety it can be quite serious. As caregiver you will have to notice such signs. They can be early signs of mental health problems. Here are few things that you should look out for:
• Dress or appearance change or any issue while maintaining the home or yard.
• Disorientation, issues with concentration, confusion, and problems with decision-making.
• Major change in appetite or weight.
• Change if mood and depression that’s persistent over a long duration, may be more than two weeks.
• The person getting thoughts of suicide, feelings of unworthiness, helplessness, or extreme guilt.
• Recent memory issues and short-term memory losses.
• Physical issues such as constipation and aches without any apparent problem or explanation.
• Loss of interest in things and activities that used to be of interest and showing social withdrawal.
• Issues with managing finances and numbers.
• Sleep pattern change, loss of energy, or fatigue, without any explanation.
With the COVID-19 scenario and the need of social distancing, it is imperative that we keep closer eyes on these symptoms. It is possible to notice these things even on video chats, or during telephone conversations. And, if you have doubts, better consult a doctor at the earliest.