Older adults face various changes in later years such as declining physical health, loss of spouse or old friends, and children getting married and leaving the household. If not managed properly, these changes could have a negative impact on mental health. Besides learning to manage these challenges to enhance mental wellbeing, it is also important to learn about common mental illnesses faced by older adults.
Two of the most common mental illness which older adults face is Dementia and Depression.
Ronald Reagan, the 40th US president, had it and so did actress Rita Hayworth and boxer Sugar Ray Robinson. They suffered from a mental condition called Alzheimer’s Disease.
This is the most common form of dementia, a degenerative brain disorder that can seriously impact your ability to carry out daily activities. It is a slow and progressive disease that worsens over time and is often seen in those aged 65 and above, with the risk increasing as one ages. However, Alzheimer’s Disease is not considered a normal part of ageing. Although there is no cure, there are medications, therapies and specific programmes available to delay the progression of the disease and ease certain symptoms.
Another form of dementia, which is less common than Alzheimer’s Disease, is Vascular Dementia, which is caused by blockages in the brain’s blood supply which leads to strokes. Some ways you can reduce your risk of getting Vascular Dementia include not smoking, exercising regularly and keeping to a healthy diet (less alcohol, salt and saturated fat).
Dementia can affect your memory, your ability to learn, reason, make judgments and communicate. As the condition progresses, you also may experience changes in personality and behaviour such as anxiety, suspiciousness or agitation.
In the very early stages of Dementia, it is possible to still maintain a fairly independent life by taking necessary steps to cope with and manage the condition. However, as the symptoms of the disease become more obvious, it may be necessary to have full-time care.
The other common mental illness that affects older adults is depression. Being sad for a short time is normal, however, if it carries on for more than two weeks, it could be a sign of depression. Like Alzheimer’s disease, it is not a natural part of ageing. It is often triggered by a number of events such as retirement, disability, chronic illness, death of a loved one, children moving out or an increased dependence on others. It can also happen without such obvious triggers and can be caused by chemical imbalances in the brain.
The symptoms of depression include crying a lot, feeling anxious or irritable, a lack of appetite or overeating, thoughts of suicide and death, poor concentration, difficulty sleeping, or little interest in life.
Keep in mind that depression is not a sign of personal weakness and you cannot treat it on your own. You also do not have to suffer in silence. There are a number of ways you can deal with depression including counseling and support from family and friends, and/or medicine. The important thing is to seek help early, before the depression overruns your life.
- What is the most common form of dementia?
- Vascular dementiar
- Alzheimer's disease
- Parkinson's disease
- What are the signs of depression?
- No appetite
- All of the above
- How can you reduce your risk of vascular dementia?
- Smoke cigars
- eat fried food