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Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Mental Health Problems In Old Age


As aging sets in, there usually is changes in mental status of an individual which most people around may not find normal. The mental health problems in old age are not all usually brought on by aging process but by some disease conditions that were left untreated or undertreated. Susceptibility to these mental problems increases with age.
Whether the mental problems are as a result of aging or not, you can help your aged ones by visiting a psychiatrist/clinical psychologists together.

Some of the mental health problems in old age are;

1. Depression

This is the most common mood disorder in old age. Depression among elderly usually occurs as a result of loss of loved one, chronic illness or pain. Depression may also come as a side effect of medication (or drug interaction) they are placed on.
Signs of depression include;
  • Loss of appetite,
  • Feeling of sadness,
  • Impaired attention span,
  • Sleep disturbances,
  • Diminished memory and suicidal ideation.
These signs may affect the functionality of the individual if care is not taken.
How to help: If you have an elder person presenting with any of the signs, it is best if you take him or her to see a trained medical professional for assessment and treatment.
Apart from the antidepressants that will be prescribed, you need to make sure they are happy by cracking jokes with them and make them say whatever is bothering them.

2. Delirium

This is often called acute confusional state. There is confusion and disorientation. This usually occurs in elderly patients who have been hospitalized. Delirium in elderly may be as a result of underline medical condition left untreated such as infection, fecal impaction, alcohol intoxicity.
Older adults are vulnerable because of their decreased biologic reserve and the large number of medications they may have taken
They may experience disorganized thought, short attention span, hallucination, fear, anxiety and may be paranoid.
How to help: If you notice any or all the signs, as a relative or caregiver, treat the case as urgent. Because if care is not taken, it may lead to permanent brain damage.

READ ALSO: Top causes of death in old age (65+)

Talking to family members may increase the comfort of anyone with delirium.

3. Dementia

This is a disorder of behavior and intellectual functioning due to brain disease. In short, dementia destroys a person’s ability to function optimally.
It usually occurs in people as young as 40 (called presenile dementia) and uncommon before 65 years of age (called senile dementia).
It is of various types based on causes but its most common types are Alzheimer’s disease (which is not a normal part of aging) and vascular dementia
Elders with dementia present with; changes in personality, impaired reasoning, irrational talk, wandering, deficit in personal care.
Dementia may come as a result of medical conditions such as hypertension, cardiovascular diseases and stroke.
How to help: If you notice that any elderly ones around you have problem with remembering names, unable to do proper self care, restless, talk to self, forget things, and aggressive, help them by inviting a psychiatrist over or go to one.
These are the common mental health problems in old age you should know. If you don’t live with your aged parents, find time to check up on them and when you see any of these symptoms, it is time to call the attention of your health care provider.
In our upcoming articles, we will be talking deeply on each of the mental health problems.
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