As we age, society often views it as normal to experience certain changes to mental health. What many people don’t realize is that cognitive decline and mental health issues are always a natural part of aging. In fact, in many cases the decline we view as normal can actually signal significant issues with mental health in the elderly.
A report by the CDC estimates that as many as 20% of people over the age of 55 are living with some type of mental health issue, ranging from depression to cognitive decline and memory loss. When you have an elderly person in your life that you care about, there are certain signs of mental health issues that you should be aware of.
Changes in Physical Appearance or Personal Upkeep
Changes in the way a person cares for themselves is often one of the first sign that they’re experiencing difficulties with their mental health. It could signal that depression is making it more difficult to find the energy to invest in self-care, or that early signs of dementia are causing the individual to forget about the basic details of physical appearance and personal upkeep.
Increase In Memory Loss
Occasionally forgetting where you put the keys or remembering to write down an appointment happens to all of us, usually with a bit more frequency as we age. However, if you’re noticing a consistent pattern of memory issues in a senior that you’re close to, it’s a strong sign that it’s time to discuss their symptoms with their physician to rule out any mental health concerns.
A regular, active social life is important for people of all ages, but especially for seniors who may have limited interaction with people outside of their scheduled social activities. Most seniors look forward to opportunities to engage socially, whether it’s a weekly lunch with friends, visiting with family or playing cards with neighbors on the weekends.
If the person you care for suddenly seems disinterested in their regular social activities, it could be a sign that depression or another mental health issue is beginning to take hold.
Changes In Mood
It’s not uncommon for changes in mood to accompany mental illness, no matter what age the person is. Minor shifts in personality, or the occasional bad day are normal for everyone but if you’re noticing drastic shifts in a senior person’s demeanor or mood changes that last more than a couple weeks, it’s important to discuss your concerns with a doctor.
A Trusted Care Provider for the One You Love
If you’re concerned your loved one is showing signs of developing a mental health issue, the most important thing you can do is discuss your concerns with their medical care provider as soon as possible. If your loved one needs long term care to help them through the process, we’re here to help. Contact Princeton Health Care Center and learn more about our services and how our compassionate and professional staff can help care for your loved one.