How can you tell the difference between the normal changes of getting older and symptoms of mental illness? Both severe cognitive impairment and dementia are the most common mental health issue among the elderly. Unfortunately, while fairly widespread among older adults, mood disorders and depression often go undiagnosed and untreated with the elderly.
Risk Factors And Causes For Senior Mental Illness
One of the problems with diagnosing and treating mental illness in seniors is the fact that older adults often report physical symptoms rather than psychiatric complaints. However, there are emotional and physical stresses that go along with aging, which provide a number of risk factors for mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety.
There are a number of different triggers for mental illness in the elderly:
- Poor diet or malnutrition
- Alcohol or substance abuse
- Medication interactions
- Illness or loss of a loved one
- Change of environment
- Physical illnesses that can affect emotion, memory, and thought
- Dementia-causing illness (such as Alzheimer’s disease)
- Long-term illness (cancer or heart disease)
Symptoms Of Mental Illness – Is It Mental Illness Or Aging?
It is normal for changes to occur as our loved ones get older. It is one thing to deal with regular forgetfulness, but cognitive impairment or persistent memory loss are another thing entirely. The same goes for long-term depression or extreme anxiety. These are a few warning signs that might indicate a mental health concern:
- Trouble working with numbers or handling finances
- Problems maintaining the home or yard or changes in appearance or dress
- Physical problems without reason; constipation, aches etc.
- Thoughts of suicide, helplessness, inappropriate guilt, or worthlessness
- Short-term memory problems or memory loss
- Decrease or increase in appetite; rapid weight changes
- problems with concentration or decision-making, disorientation, confusion
- Unexplained sleep changes, energy loss, or fatigue
- Loss of interest in things that used to be enjoyable; social withdrawal
- Depressed or sad mood that lasts more than two weeks
If your loved one experiences any of these symptoms, do not hesitate to ask for help. There are professional who are capable of helping if need be, and it is a good idea to start with your family doctor. The most important part is that you do not have to deal with this on your own.
That is why so many people prefer the housing options at www.carltonseniorliving.com. Because with the combined efforts of mental health professionals, caregivers, and family members, it is possible to identify and ward off mental illness in our older loved ones.