According to the CDC, 20% of adults 55 years or older have experienced some type of mental health concern. Sadly, 1 in 3 of those people do not receive treatment or seek help. These statistics are alarming. With awareness and vigilance, caregivers, family, and friends can look
out for the mental/emotional health of their loved ones and friends while making sure they get the proper treatment.
As our loved ones’ age, it’s natural for some changes to occur. Regular forgetfulness is one thing, however; persistent cognitive or memory loss is another thing and potentially serious. An estimated 5 million adults 65 and older currently have Alzheimer’s disease. This is about 11%
of seniors according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Extreme anxiety and long-term depression are other mental health concerns that effect seniors.
Depression, a type of mood disorder is one of the most prevalent mental health problems among
older adults and is associated with distress and suffering. It also can lead to impairments in
physical, mental, and social functioning. The presence of depressive disorders often adversely
affects the course and complicates the treatment of other chronic diseases. Older adults with
depression visit the doctor and emergency room more often, use more medication, incur higher
outpatient charges, and stay longer in the hospital.

Below are some warning signs caregivers should keep and eye out for that may indicate a mental
health concern. Do not hesitate to seek help for yourself or a loved one if you notice any of these

1. Changes in appearance or dress, or problems maintaining the home or yard.
2. Confusion, disorientation, problems with concentration or decision-making.
3. Decrease or increase in appetite; changes in weight.
4. Depressed mood lasting longer than two weeks.
5. Feelings of worthlessness, inappropriate guilt, helplessness; thoughts of suicide.
6. Memory loss, especially recent or short-term memory problems.
7. Physical problems that can’t otherwise be explained: aches, constipation, etc.
8. Social withdrawal; loss of interest in things that used to be enjoyable.
9. Trouble handling finances or working with numbers.
10. Unexplained fatigue, energy loss or sleep changes.

There are professionals willing to help, including your family doctor, who is always a good place
to start. You could also consult a counselor, geriatric psychiatrist or psychologist. The
important part is not to stand by and suffer alone.

-Cynthia Morris

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