How to Properly Identify Symptoms of Mental Health Problems in Seniors
Mental illness in seniors is a topic that’s often underrecognized. In the last few years, awareness has been growing, but there’s still a long way to go. Recent statistics by U.S. News suggest that at least one in four seniors aged 65 or over will at some point suffer from a mental health issue. The National Council on Aging has also published statistics that show that the over 85 age-group has the highest rate of suicide in the US. With these figures in mind, we at Prestige Home Care Agency wanted to bring to attention the early warning signs of mental health problems in seniors so you’ll be able to help yourself or a loved one get help as early as possible.
Early Warning Signs
There are, of course, many different types of mental illness, so it can be difficult to identify which one you’re dealing with. In truth, only a qualified professional can make an accurate diagnosis. This list gives you an idea of what to look out for in a senior who may be suffering from anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or other types of mental illness.
1. Sudden Changes in Energy Levels
A major symptom of depression is overwhelming tiredness. If you’ve noticed a loved one is finding it difficult to get up in the morning, is oversleeping, or regularly complains about being exhausted, you should contact a professional for help.
2. Sudden Inability to Carry Out Usual Tasks
As people age, daily tasks become more challenging, but if you notice your loved one isn’t bothering to try and fulfill daily tasks such as cooking, cleaning, attending to personal hygiene, or taking out the trash, it could be a sign they’re suffering from depression or an anxiety disorder.
3. Dependency on Alcohol or Drugs
Drugs and alcohol can give people a form of escape when they’re not coping mentally. If you notice a senior family member drinking during unsociable hours or relying on intoxicants to get through the day, you should urge them to seek help.
4. Sadness and Worry
These are the two most obvious symptoms of depression and anxiety. If you notice that a loved one is constantly sad, or is worried about going outside, meeting with friends, or being left alone, they may be suffering from anxiety and should get some professional help.
5. Lashing Out
Some seniors struggle to cope with processing the stresses of aging, which can make them irritable and even violent. It’s important for family members to understand that this is a time when senior loved ones need help the most and to support them in seeking it as opposed to shunning them because of their behavior.
6. Loss of Interest
If your loved one doesn’t feel like doing some of the things they’ve enjoyed doing their whole life, then it’s probably a sign they should see a doctor just in case it’s the early signs of depression.
7. Trouble Concentrating
Have you noticed your senior loved one acting erratic and unable to concentrate on simple things such as daily tasks or partaking in conversation? If so, they may be suffering from one of the many mental illnesses that affect the elderly. It’s time they visited their doctor to get help.
The warning signs for mental health problems in seniors can sometimes be hard to notice, especially as we’re usually so focused on living our busy lives. Also, most sufferers of mental health problems don’t know that they’re suffering at all, so simply asking if everything is okay isn’t the way to go. If you notice your loved one exhibiting any of the behaviors listed above, contact a healthcare professional for advice and to see if they recommend getting help. At Prestige Home Care Agency, our caregivers are trained to spot the early warning signs of mental illness, helping to ensure that those we care for get the help they need as soon as possible!