An Age-Indistinguishable Concern: Mental Health in the Elderly

BY: Neighbors’ Consejo|

Many of us consider that older people do not have many problems with their mental health, since their activities have decreased or their worries have disappeared. However, they are one of the population groups with the most mental health problems.

The World Health Organization determined that 1 in 4 adults experiences some type of mental disorder such as depression, anxiety or dementia, the first being the most serious suffering of older adults. People over 85 have the highest suicide rate of any age group. Two-thirds of the elderly with mental problems do not receive treatment and services are limited, especially in countries of the Americas. Furthermore, it is worrying that due to the aging of the population, the number of older people with mental disorders is expected to double by 2030[1] .

Therefore, it is important to keep in mind the many warning signs that alert us to the mental health condition of older adults: A change in eating or sleeping habits; feeling numb or as if nothing matters; hearing voices or believing things that are not true; anger, irritability or aggressiveness; feeling sad or hopeless; having thoughts and memories that cannot be removed from the mind; [2] among others.

This is reflected in the figures, according to the Centers for Disease for Control and Prevention (CDC)[3] , an estimated 20% of 55-year-olds experience some type of affectation to their mental health. Men over the age of 85 have a suicide rate of 45.23% per 100,000 compared to an overall rate of 11.01% per 100,000 for all ages. In addition, in a 2006 CDC survey[4]  regarding Social and Emotional Support, a percentage of adults 50 years of age and older affirmed that they never or rarely received support for their mental health when they needed it. In the District of Columbia, the percentages related to this situation were between 11.19% and 17.74%.

There are many ways to support mental health in older people, but here are six tips[5] : play mind games, exercise, stay in touch with friends, find a new hobby, volunteer, and take care of a pet.







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