Important Community Updates ► READ MORE
Auburn Hill Senior Living in Midlothian, Virginia

Mental Health Awareness For Senior Citizens

Schedule a Tour Today! Yellow balloons with happy faces; mental health awareness.

October is mental health awareness month. Did you know that as many as one in five senior citizens experience mental health concerns that are not associated with the normal aging process?

Additionally, many older adults do not seek the care they need to work through their mental health concerns and often go months or even years undiagnosed and untreated. This can affect quality of life and have a negative impact on both the individual and their loved ones. Sometimes, these issues can lead to serious implications. 

Prioritize Mental Health 

Physical health is often a primary focus for senior citizens from their doctors, family, and their caregivers. However, mental health is just as important as physical health. A healthy state of mind helps seniors experience a general feeling of well-being while a poor state of mind is a major contributor to decreased quality of life, lack of motivation, memory loss, failure to heal from illnesses, and even mortality. 

Seniors Are At Risk, Regardless Of History

Even someone who has gone through most of their life with no mental health concerns has an increasing risk of developing these problems later in life. Many factors can contribute to this increased risk. Mental health can quickly decline following a stroke, Parkinson’s diagnosis, cancer, arthritis, diabetes, and even as a side effect to some medications. 

Suicide Risk In Older Adults

It is often surprising to learn that older adults have the highest suicide rate. 

  • Adults age 85 and over account for the highest suicide rates
  • Adults age 75 to 84 account for the second-highest suicide rates
  • For all suicide attempts over the age of 65, there is one suicide for every four attempts. This is much more lethal compared to the one suicide for every twenty attempts in all other age groups. 

Spotting The Signs

If you are worried about yourself or a loved one, look for some of the warning signs that a mental health crisis is imminent:

  • Sadness lasting longer than two weeks
  • Continual worrying about things like money, family, or health
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating on a daily basis
  • Forgetfulness and confusion in familiar places
  • Drinking more than one alcoholic beverage per day and/or taking more medication than prescribed

If any of the signs are there, seek the help of a professional immediately. 

Seniors can experience the same success rates as other age groups with proper treatment. In fact, one study discovered that 80% of older adults recovered from depression after seeking professional help and getting treatment. 

Go To The Experts

Primary care physicians are not equipped to properly diagnose mental health issues, such as depression. Studies have shown that only half of seniors that speak to their primary care physician about a mental health concern ever receive treatment. Another shocking statistic shows that the majority of senior suicides take place within a month of a primary care visit. 

Our health system is flawed in that mental health appointments receive less coverage through Medicare, which could cause a financial concern for someone worried about their mental health that prevents them from seeking the help of a mental health professional.

Seniors Have Specific Needs

There are many factors that need to be considered in addressing the mental health of seniors. They are often dealing with changing bodies, changing families and relationships, and changes in living situations. Taking multiple medications that may interact with each other can also affect mood. These are all factors that can amplify an underlying mental health concern. 

That’s why it’s important to seek the help of an experienced, compassionate professional that can get seniors the help they need.

Prevention

Beyond watching for warning signs and seeking the help of a professional, prevention is key. Older adults at risk can continue to thrive and enjoy life to the fullest. 

  • Eliminate unnecessary stressors. Something as simple as acquiring transportation can reduce stress, improve community connections, and improve outlook. 
  • Prioritize fun. Seniors should carve out time each day for their favorite hobbies. Fishing, crafting, sewing, hiking, cooking, reading or shopping. It’s important to make time every day for the things that spark joy. 
  • Stay social. One of the most important things seniors can do as they get older is to stay active in their social circles and communities. Being around peers provides a sense of camaraderie and getting involved in the community provides a sense of accomplishment. 
  • Get moving. Exercise is one of nature’s anti-depressants. It’s no secret that brisk exercise increases endorphin levels, which makes exercisers feel vibrant and energetic. 
  • Read uplifting content. Finding things that inspire you to be better and think more positively can help keep your mental health in a good place. Like this article from some of the world’s wisest people.

Auburn Hill Senior Living is honored to foster an environment in which residents and team members feel as though they are surrounded by family. Every day we are united by our Guiding Principle called Caring with H.E.A.R.T.™.   H.E.A.R.T. represents Honesty, Excellence, Accountability, Residents First, and Teamwork. These are the Core Values that create the foundation of our community and resident experience, and guide all of us in the work we do each day. Schedule your tour today! 

Font Resize
Contrast