Working to Better Address Mental Health Needs of Seniors
The baby boomer generation is hitting retirement age. In fact, older adults now account for 13 percent of our entire U.S. population. The same demographic which has driven so much of American culture is continuing to be in the forefront of our culture – now in the field of mental health care. The issue of geriatric mental health was featured in the fall edition of the influential Harvard Review of Psychiatry. Here are some of the mental health challenges that were highlighted:
As older adults are confronted with debilitating and sometimes terminal health conditions, depression can be a common side effect. Rather than only working to help older patients with terminal illnesses overcome their depression, mental health professionals are also focusing on quality of life through more palliative treatments.
Dementia is a term that is very broad. Experts are seeking to replace it with several terms that will be more specific in terms of degree. Instead of dementia, health care workers will refer to major neurocognitive disorder, mild neurocognitive disorder or delirium. More attention will be paid to catching neurocognitive impairment early (mild) and treating it in its initial stages.
Older adults do experience anxiety and anxiety disorders, but they are frequently difficult to identify because symptoms change with age. Understanding what anxiety disorder looks like in later life is important and will be receiving more medical attention.
As a person’s physical health wavers, mental health can also be affected. The many changes and losses that come with later life can likewise trigger mental illness. At Family Guidance Center we welcome reports of new areas of geriatric study. All of life deserves the best in healthcare –whether in physical or mental health services. Don’t assume that getting older goes hand in hand with feeling sad, or anxious because it doesn’t have to be that way. Come talk with us and see how we can help.