Many risk factors can contribute to mental health problems for the elderly. According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mental health issues affect 20% of older adults. Contrary to popular belief, mental health issues affect younger people more than the elderly, while older adults are less likely to seek help for them. This makes it important for you to pay attention to your loved one’s mental state. Feelings of loneliness or stress may have a negative impact on your loved one’s mental health. It’s best to catch the signs early so that you can provide the care and comfort that your loved one needs. If you’ve noticed behavioral changes in your loved ones, these warning signs could help identify mental health issues.
An active social life is key to mental health. If your loved one withdraws from activities that they used to enjoy, this could be a sign of declining mental health. Apart from no longer participating in social activities, these behaviors also point to social withdrawal:
- If your loved one exhibits feelings of discomfort around others
- If your loved one exhibits constant irritation
- If your loved one feels fatigued
Loss of Appetite
If your loved one usually has a good appetite but suddenly refuses to eat or is picky about their diet, it could point to a physical illness. In such a situation, visiting your trusted doctor is the best bet to help find out what the issue is. However, if this loss of appetite is prolonged, it could indicate a mental health issue. If your loved one is also feeling sad, stressed, or anxious, contact your doctor for a diagnosis so that they can get proper treatment.
Occasional concentration issues could be normal. However, persistent and prolonged concentration issues can impair daily functions and are a warning sign of mental health issues. Trouble with concentration could also be a warning sign of Alzheimer’s and dementia. These issues could also stem from an intake of certain medications. Talk with your loved one’s doctor to find out the exact issue.
The elderly with anxiety experience greater levels of loneliness, as well as physical activity limitations and lower life satisfaction. They may worry about various topics such as family, health, and finances. This may seem like normal worries on the surface but can point to a deeper underlying anxiety issue, especially when coupled with constant restlessness, irritability, muscle tension, and fatigue.
Warning Signs of Dementia
The onset of Alzheimer’s disease is gradual, which causes early dementia to be missed in many cases. Some symptoms to look out for are poor short-term memory, difficulty with naming, changes in personality, deterioration in daily functioning and repeatedly asking the same questions. As the illness progresses, patients may also lose their sense of time, wander and get lost, and experience feelings of agitation.
Looking After Your Loved One’s Mental Health
If you are worried that your loved one may be experiencing mental health problems, it is best to visit a trusted doctor to diagnose the source of the problem so that you can seek the proper treatment. Early discovery is always best. Above all, it is important to show care and concern for your loved ones so that they feel loved, safe, and supported.