As many as 7 million older adults are suffering from depression, and many more struggle with anxiety and other mental health concerns. In fact, 20.4% Americans over 65 experience some other form of mental health issue outside of depression. These can be exacerbated during the holiday season, with feelings of holidays past and lost loved ones taking center stage.
As adults age, mental health can be just as important to pay attention to as physical health. There are multiple factors that can cause mental health concerns in seniors. A new decrease in independence around the house, no longer being able to drive themselves where they want to go, even experiencing the loss of another aging loved one – all of these are more than enough to cause mental health concerns, such as depression or anxiety. Even other conditions such as Alzheimer’s and other dementias can cause mental health concerns such as hallucinations and confusion.
If you are a caregiver to an aging adult experiencing mental health challenges, managing their condition can be particularly difficult. There are a lot of factors to consider so that you can help manage their mental health without triggering any symptoms or making the situation worse.
First, know the signs of mental health concerns in seniors:
- A change in their eating habits.
- Abnormally low energy throughout the day.
- Trouble maintaining their regular sleep schedule.
- Increased irritability.
- Withdrawing from activities they usually enjoy.
If the aging adult you care for is experiencing signs like the ones mentioned, then it may be time to suggest getting a mental health practitioner involved. During this process, it’s best to approach the conversation in a gentle, respectful way, as this can be a stressful conversation. However, once a mental health professional is involved, he or she can help in a variety of ways.
Firstly, they can help determine if the symptoms the aging adult is experiencing are really being caused by depression, or if there’s an underlying condition that’s just mimicking depression. They can also evaluate the aging adult’s medication regimens to ensure that nothing that’s being taken could be influencing the senior’s mental health. Then, they can suggest an appropriate plan to treat the problems the aging adult is experiencing.
Once the older adult has received professional advice, there are many things you can do as a caregiver to help them manage their symptoms, including:
- Keeping track of their medications and look for improvements and side effects
- Checking in with the senior to get a sense of how they’re feeling from day to day
- Paying close attention to any abnormalities in things like appetite and sleeping patters
- Evaluating their environment to make sure that there are no triggers in their living space
- Encouraging them with reminders that they have a supportive team behind them dedicated to their mental health
You could also always use the help of a home care agency, such as Nightingale Homecare, providers of compassionate senior home care in Phoenix and the surrounding areas. Our expert caregivers deliver services that can help with mental health concerns in seniors, such as medication reminders and companionship. If you’d like to learn more about why you should choose us, contact us online or at (602) 504-1555.