Navigating the Mental Health Maze in Older Adults

Older adults are at risk for a number of mental health problems. According to the National Council on Aging (2023), as many as 25% of adults 65 years and older are living with a mental health condition with the most common being depression, dementia, and anxiety. According to the World Health Organization, depression and dementia affect 5 % to 7% of people over 60 years old. The incidence of anxiety follows affecting 3.8% of older adults.

Common Mental Health Disorders in Older Adults

  • Depression
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Addiction
  • Suicide

Older adults are likely to endure significant life changes such as the loss of loved ones, deterioration in physical health, isolation, and loneliness. Isolation and loneliness can have very negative effects on mental health as well as physical health. Loneliness and isolation are linked to heart disease, stroke, dementia, and depression. Thus, many older adults face a vicious cycle of physical and mental symptoms that may increase each other.

What are some symptoms of mental disorders in older adults?

  • Noticeable changes in mood, energy level, or appetite
  • Feeling flat or having trouble feeling positive emotions
  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Difficulty concentrating, feeling restless, or on edge
  • Increased worry or feeling stressed
  • Anger, irritability, or aggressiveness
  • Ongoing headaches, digestive issues, or pain
  • Misuse of alcohol or drugs
  • Sadness or hopelessness
  • Thoughts of death or suicide or suicide attempts
  • Engaging in high-risk activities
  • Obsessive thinking or compulsive behavior
  • Thoughts or behaviors that interfere with work, family, or social life
  • Engaging in thinking or behavior that is concerning to others
  • Seeing, hearing, and feeling things that other people do not see, hear, or feel

Too often, older adults do not seek treatment and the problems can become worse over time. High-quality mental health that respects individual dignity and supports caregivers and family is needed to address the complexity of issues older adults face.

What can we do to help?

For aging parents, our center’s specialized programs focus on managing and alleviating the symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions common in later life. Our therapists understand how life changes, such as the loss of loved ones or physical health decline, can profoundly impact mental well-being. Therapists at the Anxiety and Stress Center are not only knowledgeable about geriatric issues and concerns but are also deeply empathetic, providing a safe, nurturing environment where older adults can express themselves freely and find solace.

Adult children seeking support for their aging parents will find the center a valuable resource. We recognize the emotional and practical challenges of caring for an elderly parent. We offer counseling specifically for caregivers, providing them with the tools and emotional support needed to manage their stress and anxiety effectively. These services aim to strengthen the mental health of caregivers, enabling them to provide the best possible care for their aging parents while also taking care of their own well-being.

The Anxiety and Stress Center integrates innovative therapies and approaches to enhance mental health care for older adults. From traditional talk therapy to newer, evidence-based practices like cognitive-behavioral therapy, relaxation therapies, and meditation/mindfulness, the center is committed to finding the most effective treatment for each individual. This commitment extends to working closely with other healthcare professionals to ensure a comprehensive approach to treatment, considering both mental and physical health aspects .

Give us a call today to schedule an appointment!