8 Essential Facts to Understand about Mental Health in Seniors

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Crucial Things to Know About Mental Health & Aging in Dallas, TX

A 2012 study determined one out of five older adults in the United States has some type of mental health condition. Many seniors respond well to personalized treatment for such issues, but some are hesitant to bring up concerns of this nature. Below are eight crucial things about mental health and aging to keep in mind.

1. Mental Health Problems Aren’t “Normal” for Seniors

It’s understandable for seniors to occasionally have serious concerns or to be sad or temporarily depressed if a good friend passes away. However, it’s not normal for older adults to be chronically depressed or so anxious their daily lives are affected. As you provide care, look for unexplained behavioral changes that suggest it’s time to encourage your senior loved one to talk to a doctor.

2. Insomnia Is a Common Symptom of Depression in Older Adults

WebMD reports approximately six million Americans 65 and older are clinically depressed. However, symptoms associated with depression tend to be different for seniors. One of the most common symptoms of depression in older adults is insomnia. Reduce this risk by helping your loved one address sleep-related irregularities sooner rather than later.

An in-home caregiver can monitor your loved one for changes in sleep patterns, behavior, and mood that may indicate a potential mental health issue. One of the most challenging tasks of helping an elderly relative age in place safely and comfortably is researching agencies that provide senior care. Dallas families can turn to Home Care Assistance for reliable, high-quality in-home care for aging adults. We offer 24-hour live-in care for seniors who require extensive assistance, and we also offer respite care for family caregivers who need a break from their caregiving duties.

3. Addiction Is Also a Serious Problem for the Elderly

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports nearly 20 percent of adults 60 and over are affected by alcohol or prescription drug abuse. Classified as a mental illness, addiction is sometimes difficult to detect in seniors because symptoms such as changes in habits or mood may be mistakenly attributed to aging.

4. Mental Deterioration Isn’t Inevitable for Seniors

While there are some uncontrollable factors that could affect mental health later in life, seniors can also take proactive steps to stay mentally sharp by:

• Learning new skills
• Engaging in brain-stimulating activities
• Getting regular exercise to enjoy mood-boosting benefits

Professional home caregivers can help seniors get both mental and physical exercise in the comfort of home. Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same type of elder care. Dallas families can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide individualized care plans to meet your elderly loved one’s unique care needs. Our holistic Balanced Care Method was designed to help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and our Cognitive Therapeutics Method offers mentally stimulating activities that can stave off cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia.

5. Social Connections Help Seniors Stay Mentally Healthy

Multiple studies show staying social helps older adults remain engaged and alert, which reduces the risk of experiencing serious mental health issues. From joining senior-specific groups to exploring the possibilities with social media, there are many ways older adults can socially connect.

6. Certain Senior-Specific Risk Factors Can Affect Mental Health

By knowing what tends to trigger mental health problems in seniors, you can have a better idea of when to be especially observant. According to the Geriatric Mental Health Foundation, common mental illness triggers for seniors include:

• Chronic health conditions that aren’t managed well
• Medication interactions
• Physical disabilities or limited mobility
• Dementia-causing illnesses

7. Diet Habits Can Impact Seniors’ Mental Health

By avoiding sugary snacks and processed foods and opting for more fruits, veggies, and lean proteins, seniors can enjoy an assortment of health benefits. Some of these extend to the brain and mental health. There’s also research suggesting eating nutrient-rich foods may also reduce the risk of age-related cognitive decline, another factor that can affect mental health.

8. Mental Health Issues Are Often Misdiagnosed or Untreated in Older Adults

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), roughly half of all older adults with depression aren’t properly diagnosed. Additional research referenced by the NIH also suggests about half of seniors who discuss mental health concerns with physicians receive no treatment. These are just two examples of why it’s important to take such concerns seriously even if quality of life isn’t yet significantly affected. 

A home caregiver can be a wonderful source of companionship, support, and encouragement for your loved one. If your senior loved one needs around-the-clock assistance at home, the Dallas, TX, 24-hour care professionals at Home Care Assistance are here to help. Our proprietary Balanced Care Method was designed to promote longevity by encouraging seniors to focus on healthy eating, regular exercise, mental engagement, and other important lifestyle factors. Reach out to us at Home Care Assistance if you need compassionate professional home care for your loved one. Call one of our friendly Care Managers today at (214) 363-3400.

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