Elderly adults face a wide range of health challenges in their later years. Unfortunately, one that’s often overlooked is the onset of mental conditions like depression, anxiety, and dementia. Making the transition to assisted living is one way to prevent and address mental health problems in older adults, as assisted living communities offer a higher level of social connections and care services that can improve quality of life for seniors and boost their overall mood. Below, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most common mental health challenges faced by older adults in the U.S.
Getting older comes with greater isolation as well as the pressure of facing one’s own mortality. The loss of spouses, close friends, and siblings can lead to prolonged grief and depression in older adults. In addition, conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and stroke can increase the risk of clinical depression. Simply maintaining more social contact can be beneficial in preventing depression in older adults. However, it’s also important to seek medical care when warning signs of depression arise. Some common signs of depression include:
- Overwhelming feelings of sadness, hopelessness, loneliness, or grief.
- Increased use of alcohol.
- Suicidal thoughts.
- Feeling flat or disinterested in regular activities.
- Difficulty sleeping (or sleeping too much).
- Physical pain and discomfort, such as headaches or digestive issues.
- Anger and irritability.
There are many types of anxiety disorders common among older adults, including panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and phobias. With anxiety, a sense of fear and worry interferes with daily activities and may manifest symptoms like sweaty palms, headaches, chest pain, nausea, and headaches.
Dementia is often mischaracterized as a disease. Dementia is a group of symptoms with a variety of potential underlying causes, including Alzheimer’s disease. Older adults with dementia struggle with impairment of brain functions such as memory loss, judgment, and social skills. Treatment can help slow the progress of cognitive decline or even improve symptoms, but this condition cannot be cured. In many cases, seniors with dementia will benefit from memory care, which is a specialized form of care for those with cognitive impairments. Dementia often co-occurs with depression and anxiety disorders.
Eating disorders are frequently associated with younger populations, particularly adolescent and teen girls. However, disordered eating can occur in all demographics, and it is more common among seniors than you might think. In older adults, eating disorders may be triggered by grief and loss rather than transitions and social pressures.
Moving to an assisted living community can help your elderly loved ones manage mental health challenges through a higher level of companionship, dedicated personal care, and greater opportunities for social activity and engagement. Arizona Homestead offers several levels of care to address your loved one’s unique needs. Contact us today to schedule a tour of our residential homes in Tucson.