Mental illness in older people is becoming common day by day. However, not many (especially the younger crowd) are aware of mental disorders that could affect older adults.
Since after an age, the senior citizens depend on the younger people at home, it is indispensable for the youth and people of other age-groups to understand the signs and symptoms of mental illnesses in aged individuals.
Mental health issues and disease cause severe or mild disturbances in the affected individual’s behaviour, thought process, habits, and other essentials.
Depression, anxiety, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder is some of the problems that could occur in older adults.
People over the age of 60-65 are more prone to these diseases and conditions.
As a person, being aware of the warning signs can help you detect symptoms of mental illness in your loved and dear ones, even when they attain a ripe age.
Below-mentioned is 7 symptoms of psychological issues that aged people may suffer from:
1. Social Withdrawal
Elderly folks with psychological trouble often withdraw from their social circles. They prefer staying away from near and dear ones, or seldom interact with their friends and family members. They also lose interest in activities, which they used to enjoy & even avoid social gatherings and engagements.
This could be because of a mental health issue that makes it difficult for the person to interact with others.
You can help the individual in this situation by lending a listening ear and probably give him/her company, even if it means not speaking much or engaging in any interactive activity.
Your presence itself can encourage the affected person to open up and share their concerns with you. In dire situations, it is important however for the elderly to meet a health professional.
2. Hyper Personal Care or a Lack of it
Senior citizens with mental health issues sometimes shift from their regular personal care routines. The change could be aptly noticeable, such as a change in hairstyle or overall appearance, the way of dressing, or a shift in timings of personal care activity, etc.
The person may get slightly obsessive, like washing their hands multiple times even if they are not dirty, taking a bath several times a day, or visiting the restroom often and staying in there for an unusually long time.
Or, the individual may show signs of skipping or forgoing personal care activities such as not shaving, not taking a bath, not changing clothes, etc.
This is why so many people with elderly family members decide to enlist the help of a company like Care for family, which offers in-home care services, as this allows them to closely monitor their personal care routine to try and avoid drastic changes.
All these changes, coupled with visible psychological disturbance and shifts in other schedules, can mean the person is suffering from some mental illness.
3. A Drastic Change in Eating Habits
Is the aged person showing a few important shifts in eating habits? If so, this could be a cause of concern.
Elderly people suffering from mental illness either start binging on food items or avoid eating altogether. They may suddenly skip meals for a day or two, or consume less quantity of food that too only after being insisted to, or they may get choosy about things they want to eat, and this could be a junk food items or caffeinated beverages, etc.
These changes may mean the individual certainly is going through psychological stress, if not a physical health problem.
You may try and find out about the issue by directly communicating with the person.
If they are reluctant about opening up or show signs of stress, then It is better to get a professional consultation arranged for them.
4. Depressive State
Signs of depression can be something as simple as a change in general preferences of a person, such as the preference to move by car than covering the stretch by a walk, avoiding waking up early or at a regular time and shifting to late hours of waking, getting hurt sentimentally easily, etc.
These symptoms must not be overlooked.
Even if the individual is not expressive of his/her thoughts and emotions, it is you who must come ahead and enquire and make the elderly comfortable.
Sometimes, support at the right time can eliminate the beginning sign of depression, and stop the problem from aggravating further.
At times, counseling and group therapy can do the job. If the depressive symptoms persist for a long time, then there is no reason to avoid asking for assistance.
Depression can pose a great problem in the psychological wellbeing of a person irrespective of the age of the sufferer, and in older adults, it could be worse. Thus, one must seek guidance in time.
5. Memory Issues
If an elderly individual you know is showing signs of memory loss, do not put the blame on the ageing process alone, it could be something more serious like a mental health issue.
Depending on the depth of the situation, you may need to consult an expert & put the said person on medicines for mental improvements.
It is best not to avoid signs of memory issues in your dear one.
Memory loss could be an early warning sign of issues such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, which often affects the older population.
Certain things that indicate memory issues are missing out on things a person would never otherwise do, misplacing belongings, unable to recognize a person the elderly readily could recognize earlier, asking for the same information that as enquired about just a few moments ago, etc.
Momentary memory lapse is a huge indicator of memory problems and this must be tackled immediately.
Loss of memory can pose a challenging problem, as in worse scenarios the senior citizen can even forget basic things such as their residential address, own identity, and that of their family members, etc.
It is advisable to get the person checked by a health practitioner who will be able to guide through the mental health journey.
6. Unexplained Mood Swings
Have you noticed a significant change in how older people react to a particular situation?
For instance, the person previously could have handled a few things calmly, but currently gets pretty soon and is unable to keep calm in a similar circumstance.
This condition is basically a change in mood.
Senior citizens who suffer from mental illnesses such as Alzheimer’s and depression may turn from being carefree, friendly, happy to depressed, anxious, and even confused.
The mood changes may recur frequently and last for a long time in some cases.
If you know an aged individual who has shown a crucial change in behaviour and mood for more than a couple of weeks, then you may want to seek medical help for them.
Encourage the person to reach out to a professional so that the condition meets an adequate diagnosis and treatment.
7. Hallucinations or delusions
If seniors recall information that does not make sense or that ever occurred they may be undergoing hallucinations or delusions. These symptoms may be present as paranoia or as simple confusion
The aged population deserves the same care and respect as anyone else would of any age group.
Good care for general and psychological health is important for these folks.
Therefore, people who have aged people in their home must understand the symptoms of mental illness in elders and know how to tackle the same, and how to seek advice and help from health providers for their dear ones.
Mental health care must also develop beyond the home.
The community must also learn about psychological problems that senior citizens may encounter so that long-term care can be dealt with for older adults suffering from these problems.
You must keep contact details of professional caregivers and services in your area so that it is easier to access help when necessary.