Senior Mental Health

April 2, 2019
Janelle Thomas MSN, RN
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According to the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors, 20 percent of people in the U.S. age 65 or older have a mental health concern. These concerns can range from anxiety to depression or dementia. Catching these in their initial stages is crucial to limiting their long-term effects. Those who operate as primary family caregivers are often the first to notice the symptoms and reach out for help for their aging parent.

Anxiety and Depression

These are the two most common mental health issues among the elderly in the U.S. Depression affects approximately 7 million adults over the age of 65 every year.

Treatment for Depression

The good news is that depression can be treated. Unlike anxiety which can be addressed with lifestyle changes, depression requires immediate medical attention.

Risk Factors for Depression

Those who have experienced an intense loss or chronic pain are at greater risk for developing this disease.

Signs of Depression

The signs of depression include:

  • Hopelessness
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Persistent sadness
  • Changes in the amount of sleep—either excessive or deficient
  • Changes in eating habits—either too much or too little
  • Chronic pain
  • Headaches
  • Loss of memory

Related Article: Anxiety and Depression in Older Adults


Dementia is a syndrome that includes loss of memory, reasoning, judgment, communication skills, and behavioral changes to the extent that those affected can no longer perform the tasks of everyday living. It affects approximately 47.5 million people worldwide. Approximately 5.3 million people over the age of 64 are affected by Alzheimer’s in the U.S. alone—a disease that causes dementia.

Signs of Dementia

The signs of dementia include:

  • Loss of short-term memory
  • Difficulty maintaining a conversation by losing the storyline or trouble finding the right words
  • Increasing anxiety or apathy
  • Loss of self in space or time
  • Confusion
  • Repetition

How to Help

Reducing the risk of these mental health concerns requires emotional, social, and physical support. If any of these symptoms become apparent, make an appointment with their primary health care provider.

Over 80 percent of cases of depression can be treated successfully. While dementia has no definitive treatment, dietary changes, increasing physical activity, and mental stimulus have been shown to slow down its progression.

Keep your loved one active by incorporating social outings and trips to the local senior community center into their schedules. These centers are incredible resources for seniors. They not only provide a meeting place for individuals going through similar phases in life, but they also offer various classes, shared meals, and group outings.

Contact Care Options for Kids for Home Health Care Services

In addition, consider obtaining the services of a home health care provider. These caring professionals can assist with the daily activities of living as well as provide that all-important component of a life lived well and happy—companionship.

If you or an aging loved one are considering home health care services, contact the caring staff at Care Options for Kids. Call today at (888) 592-5855.