Adults who are 65 years old and older are more prone to mental illness – predominantly anxiety and depression – which is a substantial problem.
In declining years, mental illness such as depression can frequently trail a long-lasting and/or reverting passage. Lack of social supports, deficiencies in cognitive abilities, or multiple medical conditions with mental illness may be related to this passage.Unfortunately, depression is often seen as the standard progression of aging and not seen for the seriousness of how it affects mental health. Depression considerably influences ill health and somatic functioning which needs to be addressed (Swett & Bishop, 2003).
Although various mental health issues are not part of the aging progression such as anxiety, depression, or substance abuse, along with dementia, there are several elderly who struggle with mental health disorders coinciding with disabilities and physical illnesses.
The elderly tend to be as vulnerable as the younger population to mental health disorders; however, the difference is that the younger population may experience anxiety, depression, or alcohol abuse without experiencing a number of common chronic illnesses such as respiratory problems, arthritis, diabetes, cardiac disease, and the like as an elderly person would.
Because of the coincidence of mental health issues with chronic physical illness, much in an elderly person’s life is impacted, such as quality of life, independence, perceived well-being, physical functioning, and vigor in indirect and multifaceted ways (Kelley, 2003).
What influences longstanding reclamation and continuation of self-regulating events of everyday living? Continuing recovery and self-governing doings of everyday living are obstructed by depression with the combination of bodily injuries, illnesses, and long-lasting incapacities.
Treatments can become more challenging and successful health outcomes harder to recognize when anxiety is comorbid and physical illness includes respiratory conditions, gastrointestinal issues, cardiovascular, prolonged insomnia, and abuse of alcohol.
Because anxiety can be symptomatic and syndromic, the only way to differentiate common anxiety from psychopathological anxiety is the length and greatness of the one’s symptomology (Kelley, 2003).
While alcohol use can begin earlier or later in life, the range of alcohol use in the elderly can range from consumption issues, to misuse, to addiction. There can be several factors that contribute to the dependence on alcohol and/or disorder; for example, loneliness, loss, deterioration in bodily capabilities, and a multitude of psychosocial influences. The effects of alcohol abuse can also include the deterioration of REM sleep, which cannot be recovered even with years of abstinence (Kelley, 2003).
Research has shown that loneliness is a leading cause of suicide, suicide attempts, grave health-related symptoms, and depression. Loneliness also hinders social relationships, family relationships and effects psychosomatic change. Loss is also a factor with aging, due to the increase in losses that are age-linked.
Because of the losses that the elderly endure, the interest, care or acquirement of wanted relationships begins to diminish, increasing frequency of loneliness. Loneliness can have an emotional impact on many people and may be increased by culture barriers, residing alone, a nonexistent family bond, or lack of ability and/or connection to communal events. When this happens in conjunction with physical impairment, dejection and sadness are common symptoms (Singh & Misra, 2009).
Amiability plays an important part in protecting individuals from the onset of mental trouble and in improving well-being. The decline of vital connections can lead to sentiments of vacancy and sadness, so as a person ages they will inevitably lose their network of friends and they will discover it more form new ones.
The number of more elderly is expanding all through the world. As people grow older they are confronted with various physical, mental and social part changes that challenge their sense of self and capacity to live joyfully (Singh & Misra, 2009).
Alongside physical ailments and alcohol abuse impacting depressed mood, dementia can heighten symptomology as well. Dementia affects cognitive abilities and produces a persistent decline in cognitive abilities such as problem-solving, memory, difficulties with mathematics, verbal abilities, decreased awareness, and inability to carry out a sequence of events (for example, running errands and/or going to a store).
Cognitive decline is not the only thing that changes in a person with dementia; often times a person’s disposition and conduct become difficult to manage along with one’s reactions. When identifying behavior in an individual with dementia, it is important to note that an individual can experience a passive or disinhibited type of behavior or may experience a more aggressive and anxious type of behavior.
Unfortunately, dementia causes sleep disturbance which can be a wake/sleep sequence along with a decrease in self-care such as taking care of personal needs, eating, toileting, dressing, and grooming (Kelley, 2003).
As an individual ages, countless health conditions can ascend, in turn, affecting the quality of life. On the off chance that you or your elderly loved one live with these conditions, you may find an abundant magnitude of emotional troubles.
A few of these may consist of:
- Anxiety disorders
- Bipolar disorder
- Borderline personality disorders
- Major depressive disorders
- Dissociative disorders
- Obsessive-compulsive disorders
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Schizoaffective disorders
- Substance abuse
Predominance rates of common mental disorders such as depression are indeed higher in individuals enduring physical illness, particularly for certain longstanding conditions, such as diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and cardiovascular illness.
Individuals living with psychological ailments such as depression, bipolar, schizophrenia and anxiety have even more serious threats to their physical well-being, in specific cardiovascular ailments, and a shorter lifespan than the common populace. Mental well-being issues obscure approaches for the anticipation and treatment of geriatric ailments (Doherty & Gaughran, 2014).
The analysis of major depression in individuals with persistent ill-health can nevertheless be compound, as the substantial side effects of depression are often concealed by indications inferable to the physical ailment. For instance, in diabetes, physical side effects and sleep deprivation may be credited to a reverberating hyperglycemia.
Undoubtedly, numerous general practitioners and specialists may be hesitant to approach the subject of mood, especially where the benefit does not have satisfactory psychiatry capability accessible. Moreover, when an individual presents with numerous complex physical conditions, there may not be time, particularly in a 10-minute general practitioner appointment to consider mental well-being in addition to physical well-being (Doherty & Gaughran, 2014).
Diabetes is linked to a host of other mental well-being issues including anxiety, eating disorders, psychosis, and cognitive disability. Improvement in mental, biomedical, and psychosocial health can occur when diabetes precautions are implemented.
A variety of elements may contribute to the higher rates of indisposition and mortality seen in individuals with co-morbid mental and physical well-being issues. Hardship, vagrancy, use of controlled substances, and smoking all represent an expanded threat of physical well-being issues such as diabetes, weight issues, cardiovascular problems, transmittable illnesses, and psychological conditions, many of which are preventable (Doherty & Gaughran, 2014).
Maturing is a natural part of the life cycle. It speaks to the closing period of life, a time when a person gazes into the past at their achievements and begins the final phase of life. It is essential and requires an elderly person to be malleable and cultivate innovative coping skills when adapting to the conditions that are a normal part of this period of their lives (Singh & Misra, 2009).
Analysts have begun to investigate the cognitive stresses related to emotion regulation, focusing especially on responsiveness and recollection and their affirmative outcome. Hypothetically, the execution of emotion-regulatory objectives entails cognitive containment capacities; for instance, directing responsiveness, upholding responsiveness when dealing with distractibility, or subduing undesirable thought process. Negative stimuli can be avoided when the elderly have more cognitive resources to engage with. (Scheibe & Carstensen, 2010).
Investigations have been conducted showing how emotional processing and regulation can be utilized in many methods to project intermediations, in turn, improving the quality of life in an aged individual. Emotional health surges with age on a norm, though not for every person. Furthermore, the extent and effects will be diverse in each individual.
Correspondingly, while a sense of constrained time will alter emotive objectives for most elderly people, not everyone will display such motivational modifications and the related impacts on information progression. One critical path is to instruct individuals with less versatile profiles in the use of particular enthusiastic competencies found to underlie emotional well-being.
In divergence from deterioration linked with somatic and cognitive maturing, emotional maturing seems to improve with age. Improvements are likely due to variations in the cognitive processing of emotional inducements, heightened emotional stimulus, and emotional competency. (Scheibe & Carstensen, 2010)
It may be hard to reach out for assistance, however, it is critical to make use of the support system. Having a support system is essential and a key to improving mental health. Some elderly avoid seeking help, and in turn, struggle with psychological difficulties.
Regrettably, in spite of the accessibility of successful medicines for elderly who are struggling with mental health issues, the majority remain untreated and/or undertreated. What are those barriers that often keep the elderly from pursuing and obtaining support?
Here are a few barriers that contribute to untreated care for elders:
- Less likely to voluntarily report depressive symptoms
- Physical problems [psychological problems overlooked]
- Preferring to use general health care opposed to mental health care
- Cultural based preferences
- Provider barriers [assumptions of natural aging]
- Health system barriers [coordination and collaboration between providers and economic]
- Perceived stigma of mental health issues (Ell, 2006)
Several elder individuals often think and feel like they have been through some very difficult times as well as some very good times in their lives so they do not see the need to reach out for assistance because they have done it on their own for years. Elderly do not want to feel like burdens on their loved ones nor do they feel that their loved ones will understand their struggles with aging either physically and emotionally.
However, it is essential to reach out for help and live the quality of life that is desired. Why not reach out for help today? Why not overcome those barriers that keep you from relishing life? Why not take that first step? Or maybe it has been several steps that you have taken and have not found the appropriate help needed. Do not give up, do not let go, do not give in to dismay.
The Lord says:
It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. – Deuteronomy 31:8
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1:9
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. – Galatians 6:9
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. – Philippians 1:6
I have worked with elderly in a private practice setting for 5 years. I currently work with elders gathering sensitive information, diagnosing, and assisting with support systems. I have my own personal experience with my mother who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and had her own difficulties with depression.
I enjoy working with the elderly and providing the encouragement that is needed to overcome barriers and obstacles in order to gain that inner peace that allows them to move forward and live life to the fullest.
Doherty, A., & Gaughran, F. (2014). “The Interface of Physical and Mental Health”, Social Psychiatry & Psychiatric Epidemiology, 49(5), 673-682. doi:10.1007/s00127-014-0847-7
Ell, K. (2006). “Depression Care for the Elderly: Reducing Barriers to Evidence-Based Practice”, Home Health Care Services Quarterly, 25(1-2), 115–148.
Kelley, S. D. (2003). “Prevalent Mental Health Disorders in the Aging Population: Issues of Comorbidity and Functional Disability”, Journal Of Rehabilitation, 69(2), 19.
Scheibe, S., & Carstensen, L.L. (2010). “Emotional Aging: Recent findings and future trends”, The Journals of Gerontology: 65B (2), 135–144. https://doi.org/10.1093/geronb/gbp132
Singh, A., & Misra, N. (2009). “Loneliness, Depression, and Sociability in Old Age”, Industrial Psychiatry Journal, 18(1), 51–55. http://doi.org/10.4103/0972-6748.57861
Swett, E. A., & Bishop, M. (2003). “Mental Health and the Aging Population: Implications for Rehabilitation Counselors”, Journal Of Rehabilitation, 69(2), 13.
“Elders”, Courtesy of Quinn Dombrowski, Flickr.com; (CC BY-SA 2.0) License; “Grandmom”, Courtesy of Cristian Newman, Unsplash.com; CC0 License; “Grandmother”, Courtesy of Ivan Torres, Unsplash.com; CC0 License; “Old Man with Hearing Aid”, Courtesy of JD Mason, Unsplash.com; CC0 License