Mental Health and Aging
Mental disorders are not part of normal aging, but circumstances that can contribute to the development of mental health disorders in older adults include social isolation, stressful living conditions, bereavement, acute and chronic health conditions and the burden of having to take care of a seriously impaired family member. Many older people develop mental health problems for the first time when they are in their later years. It is important to remember that these problems are treatable. A small number of older adults have a history of serious and persistent mental health problems that began in younger years and continue to require treatment as they become older.
What do you know about Aging and Mental Health?
Aging, by definition, means to grow old and more mature. Aging is a normal process; we are aging from the moment of birth. However, in today's society, the word "aging," like "mental health" or "mental disorder" sometimes has negative meanings. Incorrect beliefs fuel a number of myths about what it means to be an older adult, especially one who experiences a mental health problem or disorder.
Tips for Good Mental Health
- Do be flexible and learn to adapt to changing circumstances
- Do use your mind and stay active
- Don’t abuse prescription or over-the-counter medications (such as tranquilizers, sleeping pills or alcohol)
- Do get regular physical check-ups
- Do set goals for yourself and work toward them.
- Do check your general attitude: positive or negative? Have you laughed recently?
- Do exercise regularly, eat nutritionally, get adequate sleep.
- Do learn and know the signs of depression, it is treatable.
- Do avoid isolating yourself; isolation is a breeding ground for depression.
- Do develop and maintain good relationships with others for support.
Some common disorders and their treatments
Factors that can influence mental well-being of individuals at any age include:
- Alcoholic beverages
- Prescription medications (some may cause depression or anxiety)
- Over-the-counter drugs (some may interact with prescriptions)
- Vitamins and herbal or other nutritional supplements
- Type and amount of exercise
- Stress of change and loss (common for older adults)
- Physical illness
Warning Signs of Mental Disorders
- Confused thinking
- Prolonged depression (sadness or irritability)
- Feelings of extreme highs and lows
- Excessive fears, worries and anxieties
- Social withdrawl
- Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits
- Strong feelings of anger
- Delusions or hallucinations
- Growing inability to cope with daily problems and activities
- Self-neglect or abuse
- Suicidal thoughts
- Denial of obvious problems
- Numerous unexplained physical ailments
- Alcohol, medication or gambling abuse
Visit the Association of Community Mental Health Centers of Kansas, Inc. website (www.acmhck.org/BusinessDirectoryII.asp) for additional information or a directory of the Community Mental Health Centers in your area.
Theravive Website www.theravive.com
The therapist directory includes thousands of mental health professionals across North America, Theravive is recognized as the top therapist directory according to PsychCentral.com. They also have a free online mental health encyclopedia, academic articles and research on mental health, and a mental health blog.