Throughout the globe, the population is aging at a rapid pace. Between 2016 and 2050, the ratio of the population all over the world that will have crossed 60 years of age will double from 12 to 22%. As is mental health important during any stage of life, it becomes even more vital during old age as both physically and mentally, a person starts facing various kinds of impairments. Neurological and mental health disorders among the seniors account for 6.7% of the total disability rate of the senior population. Around 20% of the adults who are above the age of 60 years suffer from some type of mental disorder, whether serious or not.
The older generation who are above 60 years of age usually make necessary contributions to not only their families but also to the society as active participants. Though most among them have perfect mental health, there are several adults who are at high risk of developing certain neurological, mental disorders or even substance abuse issues. Other health conditions like hearing loss, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis are also a part of their old age. There are many unfortunate seniors who experience different conditions at the same time.
Too many seniors live with disability – What is the problem?
As mentioned above, the proportion of aging adults is all set to double to 12 to 22% and this implies a clear increase from 900 million to a whopping 2 billion people who will have crossed the age of 60 years. The older generation faces specific mental and physical health challenges which need to be diagnosed and treated on time.
More than 25% of the seniors above the age of 60 suffer from neurological and mental health disorder which excludes headache problems and 6.8% of all the seniors who are disabled among the 60 year olds is said to have occurred due to neurological and mental health disorders. Two of the mostly occurred neurodegenerative disorders that occur to the seniors are depression and dementia. Just after them, there are anxiety disorders which set an impact on 5-7% of the population. When seniors suffer from substance abuse issues, these are mostly left untreated.
In a nutshell, mental health issues among the seniors are usually under-identified by the professionals and by the senior patients. The social stigma that is still attached with mental health disorders actually bar people from seeking help. Individuals who are suffering from dementia in places like Prestons and Leppington can seek help of home care Prestons as professionals commit to take care of the patients.
The potential risk factors for mental health issues among seniors
There can arise several types of risk factors for all the above listed mental health disorders found in seniors. The elderly usually experience problems which are common to even the young and also those stressors which particularly occur to the seniors. Reduced mobility, frailty, chronic pain and several other health issues mark old age. The seniors are more vulnerable to experiencing events like a sudden drop in their socio-economic position due to their retirement or bereavement due to loneliness. Such life stressors lead to isolation and physical distress for which they might need long-term care from their family members.
We all know that there is a strong link between mental health and physical health. The older people who have heart conditions are more susceptible to mental decline and depression as compared to those that are healthy. Undiagnosed and unattended depression in a senior who also has heart issues can have a serious negative consequence in the near future.
Apart from these physical and mental conditions, one more things that the seniors are subject to is elderly abuse which includes verbal, physical, sexual, financial and psychological which rises from constant neglect, abandonment, huge losses and hurt to self-respect and dignity. There are proof of this fact that 1 among 6 elderly people can experience senior abuse which can even go to the extent of physical injuries which often lead to mental consequences like anxiety, panic attacks and depression.
Public health issues – Depression and Dementia
This is a mental health disorder which can cause huge amount of suffering as it can impair the way you have been functioning your life. Among the general senior population, unipolar depression happens to 7% of them and this disease accounts or 6% of the YLDs among the seniors. In primary care settings, depression is something which is mostly left undertreated and underdiagnosed. Symptoms are most often untreated as they seem similar to the normal process of aging. Depression also leads to poor overall health and hence you have to utilize various effective health care services in order to cure it as early as possible.
Dementia is not a disease but it is a syndrome which is of progressive and chronic nature where there’s deterioration of memory, behavior, thinking ability and ability to perform daily activities. This mainly occurs among the elderly people and its symptoms are often confused with that of aging. In Australia, there are several dementia caring Sydney professionals who offer day care services for the patients who aren’t able to perform their daily tasks on their own. More than 50 million people all over the world are living with dementia and it has been projected that the total number of people living with dementia would soar up to 84 million by 2030 and 155 million by 2050.
Geriatric Psychology – What it is and how it helps deal with mental disorders
Andy recently celebrated her 90th birthday but rather than being happy, she began to feel depressed about it. As she gave a retrospective glance to her life, she saw her husband leaving her 10 years ago, she lost her hearing and her son shifted her to a nursing home. From the time Andy was shifted to a nursing, she started feeling eerie and anxious all the time. According to her, the nurses keep buzzing all around her and this scares her. What is the reason behind such an unusual feeling?
Well, we can’t deny that aging comes with a whole new set of problems. While most people think of the common issues like loss of fitness, lack of flexibility and being more vulnerable to diseases, there’s more to it. There are also several psychological issues which start occuring as people age. This is where geriatric psychology comes in as it takes of the mental health issues which occur among people who are above the age of 65.
Just as Andy, there are many other patients who find themselves to be anxious and depressed all the time. Moreover, there are other issues like substance abuse and psychosis. Read on to know more on geriatric psychology, also known as geropsychology.
Geropsychology – What is it?
Psychology is a study of behavior and mind. Psychology is unique and therefore there are several types of roles of a psychologist – an educator, a researcher, policy advocate and a licensed health care provider. Psychologists are trained professionals and they have to complete 7 years of training and education after their undergraduate degree.
Geropsychology is a field with psychology which deals with the study of senior mind and providing clinical services to the aged people. Geropsychologists are researchers and they spread their knowledge of the normal process of aging and test several psychological interventions which can help in dealing with the problems that are common with old age. Geropsychologists help the seniors as well as their families to improve their mental and physical well-being and help them achieve their maximum potential during their golden years.
A surge in demand for psychological services for the seniors
- There is a surging demand for more and more mental health professionals who have expertise and experience in dealing with senior care. This soaring demand is mainly due to the growing senior population all over the globe. It is expected that there will be a hike in demand for services catering to mental health and this is specifically going to increase among the middle-aged people.
- According to latest researches, it is seen that a wide variety of older adults wish to receive proper treatment in case they developed clinical depression. If you give a choice to the seniors to find out a cure for depression, they will often opt for anti-depressant medicines. On the other hand, the elderly adults claim to feel more comfortable when they receive services from expert professionals.
- There are also researches which reveal the fact that there are 2/3rds of the elderly population who suffer from some kind of mental health disorder but they do not receive proper treatment. This is an issue which is more acute among the underserved and rural groups, especially those who live under poverty level.
Are there any policy recommendations to facilitate the state of mental health care?
- There are policies which improve opportunities for better professional courses in the psychology of aging seniors at both the postdoctoral and doctoral levels of medication education. These will probably address the multiplying concerns of the older adults who are in dire need of mental health services.
- There should be an increase in the initial diagnosing and treatment of mental health problems among the seniors through different provision of services in different areas where seniors are frequent visitors. Some such areas might be senior centers, primary care settings, libraries, residential settings and other community sites.
- Improve basic behavioral research at the National Institute of Mental Health and at the National Institute of Aging. There has to be a boost in funding for research training and for the dissemination of psychological treatment based on evidence.
- There are policy guidelines which support legislation to double the access to the best mental health services for the seniors. There are more than one impediment to such treatments like the monetary costs, dearth of balance between mental health services and reimbursement of health, improper diagnosis of mental health diseases among seniors, lack of enough programs which solely focus on senior mental disorders, transportation issues and the social stigma attached to it.
- Better coordination of physical and mental health care has to be promoted. Due to the complex interplay of mental and physical health problems among the older adults, there is a need of interdisciplinary care for being able to offer optimal care.
- Enhanced funding through Older Americans Act, Medicaid and Community Mental Health Services Block Grant to improve access to supportive services which are designed to meet the needs of the seniors.
Interventions to make the lives of seniors comfortable
If there isn’t fast recognition of the diseases, whether neurological or mental or substance use disorders, things can get worse among the seniors. This is why medicines as well as psychological interventions are necessary. Though there are still no medicines invented which can cure dementia, yet with the right kind of support, it is at least possible to enhance the lives of people who are suffering from dementia. Here are few psychological interventions that can help:
- Diagnosing the disease too early so that it promotes optimal management
- Recognizing and treating the physical issues which arise due to mental disorders
- Improving mental as well as physical health, well-being and functional ability
- Identifying and tackling challenging behavioral changes
- Offering long-term support to the caregivers
How to promote proper mental health care within the community
In order to promote the health of seniors, social care and good general health is vital. You have to prevent all sorts of illnesses and also keep chronic diseases at bay. Therefore it is imperative that you impart proper training to the health providers who are working directly with such disorders and issues. It is also vital to focus on long-term care of seniors who are suffering from mental health disorders.
Do you find any possibility of imagining a dementia-free world? Since there is no cure to this neurodegenerative disorder, it is tough to envision a world sans dementia but it is definitely possible to spread awareness and halt the progression of this disease.