January 21, 2020 —One in five men and women 55 years of age and older experience some type of mental health concern.
That’s just one of many issues related to older adults and mental health, and what better time to discuss then during Mental Health Awareness Month.
“During May, NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) and the rest of the country are raising awareness of mental health. Each year we fight stigma, provide support, educate the public and advocate for policies that support people with mental illness and their families,” NAMI explains.
Depression is Often Misdiagnosed in Older Adults
When it comes to depression, older adults are often misdiagnosed and undertreated. “Healthcare providers may mistake an older adult’s symptoms of depression as just a natural reaction to illness or the life changes that may occur as we age, and therefore not see the depression as something to be treated. Older adults themselves often share this belief and do not seek help because they don’t understand that they could feel better with appropriate treatment,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.
While the majority of older adults are not depressed, many are at an increased risk because they are more likely to have chronic health conditions and other illnesses and experience grief, loneliness and other losses.
Other mental health concerns include:
- Suicide and men over the age of 75, who have the highest rate of suicide of any age group;
- Substance abuse is growing among older adults and is often overlooked by doctors;
- Eating disorders, especially in older females, can develop as one loses interest in eating;
- Anxiety in older adults can lead to other health problems such as sleep and digestion disorders.
The Nord Center Offers Help
Since 1947 The Nord Center in Lorain has provided a range of mental health services for adults, teens and children throughout Lorain County, including a 24/7 crisis hotline (1-800-888-6161). Kendal at Oberlin resident Malcolm Peel is on The Nord Center’s board and plans to give a presentation at Kendal in the fall about families and mental health. He said that if you or a loved one are concerned about mental health issues, you can contact the Nord Center (440-233-7232) and request an admissions evaluation. To learn more about mental health or to find a support group contact the NAMI office in Lorain (440-233-8181).
Can You Control Happiness as You Get Older?
This free guide to Emotional Health may help.