18 Sep Mental Health Issues and Seniors
The numbers are staggering: according to the Centers for Disease Control, 20 percent of those 55 years or older experience some sort of mental health issue, whether it be anxiety, severe cognitive impairment or mood disorders like depression and bipolar disorder. Older men have the highest rates of suicide of any age group at 45.23 per 100,000 compared with 11.01 per 100,000 for the overall population, and mental health issues are often implicated as a factor.
And a recent Institute of Medicine report shows similar statistics—one in five older adults in the United States have a mental health or substance use problem.
Below are 10 tips for caregivers to recognize mental health issues in elders, for elders seeking help and links to SAMHSA’s (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) many resources:
- Watch for these common signs of mental health problems: social withdrawal, inability to cope with daily problems and activities, excessive fear, worries and anxieties, dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits, confused thinking or prolonged depression.
- Watch for these physical signs of substance use disorders: sudden weight loss or gain, slurred speech and changes in appetite and sleeping patters; behavioral signs such as unexplained financial problems, sudden change in friends and declining performance at work; and psychological changes such as sudden mood swings, lack of motivation, and feelings of fear, anxiety and paranoia.