You might not be surprised to read that the most common mental health issue among the elderly is severe cognitive impairment or dementia, for example, Alzheimer’s disease. Depression and mood disorders are also fairly widespread among older adults, and they often go undiagnosed and untreated.

Often going along with depression in many individuals, anxiety is also one of the more prevalent mental health problems among the elderly.  Anxiety disorders encompass a range of issues, from obsessive-compulsive disorder (including hoarding syndrome) to phobias to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Older adults are more likely to report physical symptoms than psychiatric complaints

As our loved ones age, it’s natural for some changes to occur. Regular forgetfulness is one thing, however; persistent memory loss or cognitive impairment is another thing and potentially serious. The same goes for extreme anxiety or long-term depression. Caregivers should keep an eye out for the following warning signs, which could indicate a mental health concern:

Sad or depressed mood lasting longer than two weeks

Social withdrawal; loss of interest in things that used to be enjoyable

Unexplained fatigue, energy loss, or sleep changes

Confusion, disorientation, problems with concentration or decision-making

Increase or decrease in appetite; changes in weight

Memory loss, especially recent or short-term memory problems

Feelings of worthlessness, inappropriate guilt, helplessness; thoughts of suicide

Physical problems that can’t otherwise be explained: aches, constipation, etc.

Changes in appearance or dress, or problems maintaining the home or yard

Trouble handling finances or working with numbers

Don’t hesitate to seek help if your loved one is experiencing any of the symptoms above. We will help you understand these signs and communicate with the primary care physician, a qualified counselor, a psychologist, or a geriatric psychiatrist. The important part is not to stand by and suffer alone. With the combined efforts of families, caregivers, and mental health professionals, we can help ward off mental illness in our older loved ones and make sure they are on the right track to healthy aging.

Behavioral Health

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