Senior citizens and older adults often experience mental health issues. In fact, 20% of people age 55 years or older experience some type of mental health concern according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So don’t make the mistake of dismissing warning signs of mental health issues as a normal aspect of aging.
If you are aware of warning signs, it can be helpful in determining if an older adult you love or care for is in need of help. There is treatment for depression and anxiety. Living in emotional pain is not necessary for anyone, at any age.
Changes in Appearance, Dress, and Personal Care
It is common for individuals experiencing mental health issues to disregard their personal appearance. For example, someone who showered daily might stop bathing. Or, a person who once prided themselves on their personal style may skip their fancy outfits, opting to wear the same clothes day after day.
This shift in dress and personal hygiene could be a sign of depression. Recognizing the inability to keep up one’s appearance may seem small, but it could be a symptom of a larger issue.
When someone is depressed, they are often unable to find joy in their day-to-day tasks. Sleep problems and difficulty concentrating can also be warning signs of mental health issues.
Withdrawing from Social Engagements
Human connection is important for a healthy lifestyle, yet many find themselves lonely, particularly when they are coping with a mental health issue. There are many reasons people withdrawal from friends and family. It could be because they are experiencing anxiety, depression, or are trying to hide an addiction.
Addressing their isolation, or having the senior your love talk through their social isolation with a professional, can start the process of healing.
Experiencing Memory Issues
While there is a scope of normal memory loss that can occur with aging, extensive memory loss could indicate a larger problem. Therefore, it might take a few more moments than it used to in order to recall a name and that can be ok. But, memory loss can be connected with dementia, too. If any of the signs below are present, speak with a health care provider.
- Repeatedly asking the same question.
- Getting lost in areas that should be familiar.
- Failing to remember simple words.
Challenging to Receive a Diagnosis
Due to stigmas associated with reaching out for help, seniors are often not diagnosed. Younger adults are more likely to open up about their mental health concerns while older adults are less candid about their symptoms and may confuse them with ideas about what it means to be aging.
Speaking with a professional about warning signs of mental health issues is important. Don’t ignore your suspicions, bring up your concerns and talk to a counselor to find out about next steps.
Kendall Van Blarcom is a senior helping seniors. Contact Van Blarcom Consulting today for help with your personal problems. Or, reach out to provide support for an older adult in your life.