The life of a person entering late adulthood may come with a lot of challenges. It does not only involve a possible decline in physical health, but mental health illness in seniors are also likely to develop. In the United States, about one out of five elderly persons have mental health concerns. The concerning bit of this is that one in three of them do not seek nor receive professional help due to the fear or shame of being stigmatized. But with proper understanding and awareness, you may help yourself or your loved ones to seek proper treatment. So, here are the most common types of mental health illness encountered in late adulthood.
#1 – Cognitive Impairment
The most common type of mental health illness in elders is severe cognitive impairment, also widely known as dementia. This involves decline in a person’s thinking, memory, reasoning, communication, and problem-solving skills, which interfere with how they move about with their daily routine. The most common cause of dementia, representing 60-80% of those who are experiencing it, is Alzheimer’s disease.
#2 – Mood Disorders
Entering the late adulthood may also shake-up one’s emotional state. Looking back at one’s life experiences, including what may have been frustrating events, and having that dread of imminent passing, elders may have drastic mood changes. If left unchecked, this might lead to mood disorders, more particularly depression. Elderly persons experiencing depression show signs and symptoms such as insomnia or sleeping excessively, fatigue, loss of interest in their hobbies, loss of appetite or overeating, and frequent thoughts of death.
#3 – Anxiety Disorders
Elders may also experience immense stress or worry of both the known and unknown. Anxiety may come from news of mortality related to elderly deaths or higher risk of suffering from medical conditions, like getting infected of the dreaded COVID-19. This type of mental health illness may also arise from an elderly feeling isolated from family and friends or having guilt feelings of being a burden to their loved ones.
#4 – Thought Disorder
Another mental health illness that may manifest alongside with late adulthood is thought disorder. It is characterized by having the difficulty distinguishing what is real from unreal, having visual or auditory hallucinations, or paranoia. It may be uncommon but it is still possible to occur especially when there is a family history of this illness or due to complications of other conditions such as dementia, delirium, and brain tumors. Long-term substance abuse and alcoholism or medication interaction may also cause thought disorders.
These types of mental health illness may or may not manifest to you or your loved ones in the late adulthood stage. But when they do, they are sure to affect one’s life, behavior and relationships. It is best to make sure to seek professional health in order to get proper diagnosis and treatment when you see signs and symptoms of these mental health problems.
Whether it is you who are experiencing the mental illness or it is your loved one, the most important thing to remember is to reach out for help. You are not alone in this struggle and there are people who are very willing to extent their support as you go through this ordeal. You can also transition them into assisted living communities, where they can be assisted by team members as they also enjoy independence. There are plenty of fun activities to keep their mind busy and help them put a stop to these mental health illnesses.