Winter may have an adverse impact on senior mental health – Recognizing the signs of illness

A mental health website recently revealed through its studies that nearly half of the adults will experience some sort of mental illness in their lifetime.

With the onset of winter, the elderly people might get adversely affected by losing their independence and becoming immobile to a certain extent. Laura Baalrud, the director of Community Health for HSHS Sacred Heart said that one among four adults get diagnosed with some kind of cognitive disorders during winter every year. 

Winter is usually the best season to go outside and enjoy different sorts of activities that are just available during this time but at the same time it is also the season which the seniors find difficult to manage. With the onset of the chilly weather, seniors find it hard to stay mobile and there is a constant fear of falling down and hurting oneself. This makes them homebound. Seniors gradually tend to lose their independence and this has an impact on their socialization. Lack of socialization leads to more isolation and this in turn leads to depression. 

Is depression a normal part of aging?

There is a misconception among people that depression is a normal part of aging but this is far from being true. There are few signs of depression that you should watch out for as depression looks different for different people. People may sleep a lot more; there might be mood swings and changes in diet. Among others, you might see increase in irritation and frustration. Others may develop stomach aches, headaches and feel a sense of pain all over. 

There are things that you can do in order to combat depression. During winter, seniors can definitely take some steps to remain more active during winter. Make sure you exercise, walk outside in the locality and make friends so that you can even socialize during walking. There are experts who have thought of building a community where they can extend their help to the struggling so that they don’t feel lonely, particularly during the holiday season. So, if your loved one is suffering from some kind of mental health issue during winter or during any time of the year, get in touch with a health physician to know about the ways in which you can treat them. 

Prevalence of mental health disorders among the elderly people

Behavioral problems among the elderly may usually stem from a cognitive decline that happened due to some specific reason. While there are abundance of Sydney in home care facilities that offer residential services to people suffering from poor mental health, you still need to get the facts right. 20% of the American adults above the age of 55 experience some sort of mental health concern and 1 among 3 of them don’t receive proper treatment, as per reports from CDC.

You may not be alarmed to know that the most common kind of mental health disorder among the seniors is dementia or cognitive impairment. 5 million adults who are either 65 or older than that are presently suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, which is just 12% of the seniors, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. 

Mood disorders along with depression are extremely prevalent among the older people and the most disturbing and sad fact is that most of it goes untreated and undiagnosed. Center for Disease Control (CDC) finds that 5% of the seniors above the age of 65 currently have depression and 11% report being diagnosed with the same at some point of their lives. 

Along with depression, anxiety is also one of the most common mental health issues reported among the seniors. As long as anxiety disorders are concerned, there are wide range of issues that range from obsessive-compulsive disorder to hoarding syndrome to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to phobias. Around 8% of those above 65 years have been diagnosed with some kind of anxiety issues at some point of their lives. 

Mental health illnesses and the potential risk factors

One of the main challenges with treating and diagnosing mental illness among seniors is that the seniors will more likely report their physical symptoms rather than their psychiatric symptoms. There is a normal physical and emotional stress that comes with aging and these can also be considered as risk factors for depression, anxiety or even dementia. Here is a list of potential triggers for mental health disorders among the seniors put forth by Geriatric Mental Health Foundation. 

  • Substance Abuse or alcohol
  • Alteration of environment where you moved into assisted living facility
  • Alzheimer’s disease which is the leading cause of dementia
  • Long term illness like heart issues or cancer
  • Loss of a loved one
  • Physical disability
  • Medical interactions
  • Malnutrition or poor diet
  • Physical illness which have an impact on memory, emotion and thought

Possible and notice-worthy symptoms of mental illness among seniors

  • Change in dress or appearance and problems in maintaining yard or home
  • Disorientation, confusion and problems in making decisions and concentrating
  • Alterations in weight and decrease or a sudden increase in appetite
  • Depressed or a sad mood continuing to last for more than 2 weeks
  • Physical issues that are unexplainable like constipation or aches
  • Short-term memory problems or recent memory issues
  • Loss of interest in things that was enjoyable at one point of time
  • Unexplained loss of energy, fatigue or sleep changes 
  • Difficulty in handling finances or working with numbers

If your loved one is suffering from any of the above listed symptoms, never delay getting help from a professional. There are family doctors and several other professionals who are waiting to help you. A psychologist, a counselor and a geriatric psychiatrist are probably the best people to start off with. With the efforts of family members, caregivers and mental health professionals, it is possible to ward off mental illnesses among the loved ones to make sure they’re aging in a healthy way. 

Importance of prioritizing your mental health as you age

As you turn 65, there are lots of lifestyle changes that eventually come and that are difficult to cope with. When you’re nearing your retirement, it is high time that you focus on your mental well-being in order to make life easier. An increasingly large number of people who suffer from GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) or some form of depression. Just as you have to manage your physical health while aging, you should also pay attention to your mental health. 

If you’re about to enter your golden years, there are few tips that you need to keep in mind in order to make sure your mental health is at the best state. 

  • Try to surround yourself with your friends and family as this will help you keep your interaction skills sharp and perfect. 
  • Go out for an afternoon or evening stroll as walking has several physical and mental health benefits like lower levels of blood sugar, improved heart health and better social engagement that lead to positivity. 
  • Spend some time in volunteering for a social cause as this increases your personal value and worth. From getting physically active to making new friends, this can certainly be a rewarding experience for anyone who is involved in it. 
  • In case you feel difficulty in swimming or walking, you can engage yourself in low-impact exercise. Pilates and Tai chi is also effective in assisting you with your core strength, balance and mental health. 
  • Support younger adults and other family members so that you always have the sense of purpose and contribute to humanity.
  • Give your mind a workout by spending your evenings reading a book or playing mind-boggling games. Reading and playing such games will make you more receptive to learning and will also help you with retaining memory. 
  • Get adequate amount of sleep, at least 7-8 hours in a day as it is only by taking proper rest that you can take care of your mental health. 

Adults above the age of 65 are usually less likely to understand the need for taking care of their mental health as compared to younger adults. Hence they may become less eager to talk about concerns with their physical health professional. 

With everyone being unique and with separate body needs, there are various types of treatment options for people with mental disorders. There are some forms of disorders for which medicines may not work. Therapies provide a better solution for such people. Few of the most common therapies used for treating such things are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychotherapy, seeking help of self-help groups and other effective techniques of stress management. 

When you’re about to enter your retirement age, it is imperative that you give first priority to your mental health. Though there are in dementia home care Townsville options for treating disorders like dementia at home, yet it is only through your personal effort that you can make the best out of your golden years. 

Engaging your seniors with digital health – How this improves their mental health

It is rather challenging to engage the seniors in their health care especially when you have to involve them into adopting new forms of technology. With 78% of the seniors in America intending to remain in their own comfort zones, tech services will have a heavy impact on the safety and independence on their lives. By adopting a high-tech approach and by pairing tech with conventional approaches, you can improve the health consequences of your senior. Check out how seniors can engage in digital health. 

Misconceptions related to the healthcare technology

Seniors need to understand the actual value of health and should encourage safety tech solutions. However, there are few misconceptions that you need to know of:

  • Utilizing health tech will make you feel old

Whenever seniors think of health tech like an emergency button, they most likely believe that the tech gadgets are only used during a medical emergency like a fall or a heart attack. As long as adopting this new technology is concerned, this kind of assumption is a big obstacle. In case the seniors don’t think that they’re old enough to be subject to any kind of emergency, this can be a hazard for them. The healthcare providers, tech providers and family members should remind seniors that technology is not only for the frail. 

  • Technology is necessary during an emergency

With the help of technology, you can gain access to a wide range of resources, not just during an emergency. Suppose, technology has the ability to address SDOH (Social Determinants of Health) by providing you access to medical and clinical consultation, information on chronic diseases, community resources and also access to transportation. The National Poll on Healthy Aging studied that 1 among 4 adults say that people feel isolated at some point in their lives and this could be avoided with the help of regular companionship. 

  • Technology equips caregivers with actionable information

Health technology like emergency responsive devices has got several advantages for the seniors but there are several other options that can alter the game and enhance independence among elders. Passive remote monitoring is one such growth area in the field of technology or the utilization of passive sensors in home to identify and recognize behavioral changes in a person. The information that is collected from passive remote monitoring equips the professional caregivers and gives them an opportunity to peep into the patient’s behavior. He also assists the patient in having the required conversation to know the root cause of the illness. If you have a senior at home who has 3 meals in a day but suddenly starts having just 1 meal, don’t you think you should dig in and try to know the reason? Don’t believe in answers like ‘I’m fine!’ 

So, whenever you sense problems within your near and dear ones, make sure you seek help of the right health professional at the right time. Don’t procrastinate as this can make things serious. 

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