Being healthy as you age is important. Part of aging well is being healthy mentally and emotionally. The population of the world is rapidly aging and approximately 15% of adults over 60 have some type of mental illness. The most common disorders are dementia and depression. Mental health problems do not naturally occur as you age yet in many cases seniors are treated as if memory loss, depression and dementia are inevitable.
October 1 to 7th is Mental Health Awareness Week. During this week many who suffer from mental illness will be sharing their stories with the public. This is to help others understand mental illness and how it affects their lives.
What are the risk factors for mental illness as we grow older?
- Multiple factors can affect you emotionally as you age. Besides the normal stresses of life, those with mental disorders may also have chronic pain and other conditions. Because of these they may have lost their ability to live independently. Long-term care facilities are often needed to care for those with a mental illness and/or disability. Add to this, retirement, loss of a loved one, loneliness, isolation and financial hardship and the results are depression and other emotional problems.
- Seniors who have experienced elder abuse or neglect lose their dignity and their respect for themselves. Besides being physically abused, most are emotionally abused. This can lead to anxiety and depression.
- Dementia can cause loss of cognitive ability. Almost 50 million people worldwide suffer from dementia. It also causes stress for the families involved. The health community as well as caregivers need support.
We have learned that mental health problems in the elderly need to be addressed differently from the problems of younger people. Mental Health Awareness week requires involvement from everyone. Learn more about how you can help others who are suffering with mental illness, particularly seniors. Find ways to keep your stress under control and speak with your doctor if you are having issues with anxiety or depression. Healthy aging involves your mind as well as your body.