A Growing Population
The world population is aging. It is estimated about 8.5 percent of people worldwide are aged 65 and over and this percentage is expected to rise to nearly 17 percent of the world’s population by 2050.
It is common for mental health issues to be ignored or misdiagnosed by healthcare providers, family members, and the individuals experiencing the issues themselves. Sometimes, because of the stigma around mental health issues, people are slow to reach out for help. It stands to reason that more older adults will bring more mental health issues. It’s important to reach out for help as soon and you need it.
Increased Risk of Issues
There can be an increased risk of mental health problems as we age. Some issues include chronic pain, a loss of loved ones, loneliness, isolation, and losses in day-to-day capabilities. There is also the very real problem of elder abuse. This is when a caregiver relationship is harmful, when physical, financial, or verbal mistreatment is present. All of these can result in anxiety and depression.
Another issue that can arise is dementia which manifests as a deterioration in cognitive abilities, from memory to behavior. This is not a normal part of aging and should be addressed. Dementia can cause much stress in a home. Families and caregivers are likely to crave additional support when they are facing the emotional, financial, and physical pressures of dementia.
How to Age Well
While elderly mental health statistics can be frightening, there are active ways to age healthfully. Creating environments that are supportive and nurturing can have lasting results. Paths to healthy aging include securing safe housing (whether that is making changes to a home to prevent accidents or looking into assisted living), providing social support to an elderly individual and being sure that both physical and mental health initiatives are in place so the person can remain as healthy as possible.
Monitoring mental and physical health means any issues can be detected early and managed. If possible, talk through any issues with a trusted professional and work to create an environment of community care. This is all essential because our bodies change as we age. All of these adjustments in our chemistry, mobility, and shifts in familial and friendship bonds have an impact on our health.
Sometimes there are problems causing big issues that can be addressed with support. For example, providing safe transportation to an elderly individual could change their life. A weekly shopping trip could improve their mood and help them to maintain community connections leading to lower stress levels and increased happiness. If transportation isn’t the issue, know that some report the same results when they pursue hobbies or schedule regular exercise. In both cases, you are exercising your mind and body, leading to good health.