Mental Health Awareness Month was originally celebrated in 1949. That was 73 years ago! The goals of the sponsoring organization, originally the National Committee for Mental Hygiene (now Mental Health America), were to improve attitudes toward mental health/illness, improve services for mental health clients, and promote mental health.
Older adults are more at risk for depression. As people age, they often find themselves spending more time alone. Studies show that loneliness and social isolation are associated with higher rates of depression among seniors. They’ve lost their independence and can no longer do things like they’ve always done. They can feel like they are a burden on their family and have no sense of purpose. They’ve had a loss of loved ones, family, or friends.
Potential signs of mental health distress in seniors include social withdrawal, changes in personal care, changes in sleeping and eating habits, depressed mood, issues with memory, and hallucinations. There may be low motivation and loss of interest in activities that they used to enjoy, lack of energy, and increased pain, such as arthritis or headaches.
It is important to attend to mental health just like you would physical health. Physical health problems significantly increase our risk of developing mental health problems, and vice versa. It can increase the risk of cardiac diseases and death from an illness. It causes a higher rate of suicide. It also increases the cost of healthcare.
At VITALIA Senior Residences® at Strongsville Strongsville, OH we understand depression is a treatable condition like diabetes or hypertension. Don’t settle for being depressed at any age! It is not a normal part of getting older. A primary care physician or mental health specialist can address chronic feelings of sadness.