Mental health is important at every stage of life as it influences thinking, behavior, and decisions. From childhood to adolescence and until old age, it plays a crucial role in a person’s overall well-being. Cognitive health is more important for seniors with chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Conditions like depression can complicate their symptoms. According to the American Psychological Association, one in four persons aged 65 and above have mental illness. It is estimated that the number of seniors with mental disorders will double by 2030. Hence, Mental Health Awareness is essential for the elderly to understand the symptoms and to find an appropriate treatment.
Most Common Mental Health Problems in Seniors
Depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, dementia, and bipolar disorders are the most common mental health problems in seniors. Depression that causes ‘blue’ moods is more prevalent among seniors.
Risk Factors that Can Trigger Mental Illness
- History of mental illness in parents or siblings
- Social injustice
- Addiction to alcohol or drugs
- Instability in life
- Family conflicts
- Financial problems
- Medical emergencies
Early Signs and Symptoms
It is important to detect mental issues among seniors early as these disorders can worsen the prevailing health conditions. Watch for the following warning signs and consult a therapist.
• Social withdrawal symptoms
• Loss of appetite and sleep
• Hopelessness and Forgetfulness
• Confusion and lack of decision making
• Excessive smoking and drinking
• Aggressive and violent behavior
• Hearing voices
Chronic Conditions Vs Mental Illness
People living with mental illness experience a wide range of health issues. Especially among elders, there is a clear link between physical health and depression. High levels of stress hormones and adrenaline increase blood pressure and heart rate. This in turn can affect metabolism, cardiac function, and overall health. It is estimated that 40% to 65% of those who have had a stroke are suffering from depression or other mental disorders. And the ratio is also high for people suffering from Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis at approximately 40%. Approximately 25% of people with diabetes or cancer have mental health issues.
Ways to Overcome Mental Illness
Fortunately, mental illness is a treatable condition. Apart from medications and therapies, there are several activities and resources available to help seniors overcome their mental disorders. Family and social support play an important role to reduce mental illness and keep seniors in high spirits.
The following are ways to improve seniors’ mental health.
• Stay connected with friends and families
• Follow a healthy diet and lifestyle
• Exercise regularly
• Choose a new hobby
• Engage in brain games
• Remain positive
• Speak out and seek medical support
Natural Remedies for Mental Health Disorders
Omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3 fats found in cold-water fish such as salmon can boost mental health. These natural fats act as effective antidepressants in people with depression.
St. John’s wort: St. John’s wort is a flowering plant that has been used for years in treating depression. The scientific evidence establishes that the chemicals in the plant act on the neurotransmitters in the brain that control mood. The dried herb can be used as tea or can be taken in a capsule or tablet form to effectively treat mild to moderate symptoms of depression.
Maca root: The roots of this pink flower plant have been used in many cultures since the beginning of time to increase potency. By directly working on the hypothalamus and pituitary gland of the brain, it helps to boost focus. Take one teaspoon of maca root powder with other foods daily for 6 to 12 weeks to effectively stimulate brain activity, boost mental energy, calm anxiety, reduce stress and depression.
Valerian: Native to Europe and Asia, Valerian is a herb. Valerian root has been used as a sedative for centuries and our ancestors used it effectively to treat insomnia, migraine, fatigue, and stomach cramps. One cup of valerian tea 1 to 2 hours before bedtime lowers anxiety and helps seniors to sleep well.
New Treatments to Improve Mental Health
Cognitive behavioral therapy, hypnotherapy and psychotropic medicines are widely used to treat mental disorders. However, new types of treatments are emerging, and it is helpful to focus on a few of the options.
Brain spotting: Using the eye and eye movements, Brain spotting therapy heals the trauma and negative emotions stored in the brain. Discovered by Psychotherapist David Grand, BST is safe and effective in treating anxiety, depression and other behavioral conditions.
Neurofeedback Therapy: Analyzing the brainwaves on a computer, Neurofeedback therapy is popularly used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It is also used to treat many other mental health disorders such as epilepsy, anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS): Stimulating nerve cells with the use of magnetic fields, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is an effective alternative to treat neurological and psychiatric disorders, such as depression.
Cognitive Control Training: CCT is a brain training technique to control the activity of a brain part to treat attention deficit disorders and depression. Several computerized programs are used in this method to help the older brains become active.
Aging is a fact of life and healthy aging is what we should focus on. Mental health is as equally important as physical health and loved ones should not hesitate to discuss it. Talk to your family and/or friends and approach a psychiatrist or a therapist for advice and treatment.
Assured Home Nursing have many caregivers who specialize in Memory care services to take complete care of seniors with Alzheimer’s, Dementia and Parkinson’s. Experienced and trained caregivers take proper care of your loved ones at home and manage their conditions by supporting them while they perform many activities to boost their cognitive health.
If you need professional support to take care of your loved one at home, Assured Home Nursing is here to help you. For more information, please call us @ 248-593-8134.