3 Big Risks That Make Seniors Vulnerable to Mental Illness

Many people associate mental health issues with younger age groups. However, seniors are at high risk for mental health disorders like anxiety, depression, and dementia, to name a few.

Why are seniors more at risk of developing a mental illness compared to other age groups? It comes down to a variety of factors that occur later in life. Some of the most prevalent issues include increased isolation, loss of loved ones, and decreased independence.

We’ll dive further into each of these issues below, and discuss how we can help ensure that our aging population receives the care they need to fully enjoy their golden years.

Life Changes that Impact Senior Mental Health

Increased Isolation

Humans are innately social beings. As people age, they typically retire from their jobs, downsize their homes, and go through other big life transitions. In doing so, it’s normal to lose connections to family, friends, and colleagues. Seniors may also develop mobility issues that hinder their ability to participate in activities they used to enjoy.

This increases isolation, which may cause them to develop depression, anxiety, or cognitive decline. Research suggests loneliness also increases the risk of physical ailments like high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, and potentially death.

Loss of Loved Ones

Seniors experience the loss of loved ones, like their spouse, siblings, and close friends, at a much higher rate than their younger counterparts. Such losses can lead to profound grief, anxiety, and depression. It’s important to support seniors during such challenging periods, encourage them to attend grief support groups, and seek professional help to manage mental health issues.

Decreased Independence

Maintaining mobility and staying mentally sharp are imperative for seniors to maintain independence in later years. However, as physical and cognitive capabilities diminish from old age and other factors, seniors may require assistance with daily activities. This lack of physical and mental autonomy takes a toll on elders and their dignity, increasing their risk of depression.

Seniors are also more susceptible to developing memory loss from Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. These disorders can cause depression and anxiety, as seniors grapple with the stress of losing their memory and independence. Detecting cognitive ailments early, providing professional mental health care, and fostering social interactions can help boost their mental wellness.

Caring for Senior Mental Health

Aging presents unique mental health challenges for people of all backgrounds. From isolation and loneliness to physical limitations, loss of loved ones, and decreased independence, there are many factors that can contribute to mental health conditions in seniors. That’s why it’s essential that they receive the care they need to live healthier, more fulfilled lives.

At Rural Psychiatry Associates, we believe the senior population deserves a customized approach to mental health care. Our providers specialize in geriatric care, and can offer mental health evaluations and medication management services in person or via telehealth.

We also provide inpatient and outpatient care for assisted living communities, hospitals, nursing homes, and other organizations that work closely with seniors. To learn more about any of our services, reach out to our team today!

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