Nearly 20% of persons aged 60 and up suffer from neurological or mental problems, with mental and neurological disorders accounting for 6.6 percent of these people’s disabilities. This age group’s most prevalent mental and neurological illnesses are dementia and depression.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 3.8 percent of this population suffers from anxiety disorders, 1% suffers from substance misuse, and nearly a quarter dies due to self-harm (WHO). Because of the stigma associated with mental health, older persons are hesitant to discuss it. They frequently overlook or misdiagnose it by both older adults and health care professionals.
Older individuals’ mental health problems are linked to several risk factors. Although older folks have similar stressors to most people, they are more likely to be exposed to these stressors later in life. For example, elderly persons are more likely to experience loss of mobility, chronic health issues, and other issues.
They’re also more likely to lose loved ones or friends, lose their socioeconomic level due to retirement, and be isolated from their children, among other things. All of these stresses have the potential to produce psychological distress, necessitating long-term treatment.
There is an inextricable link between mental and physical health. For example, mental health influences physical health and vice versa. Compared to healthy older persons, seniors with heart disease are more prone to suffer from depression.
In older persons, dementia and depression are common. Dementia is a disease that presents by changes in memory, reasoning, behavior, and the capacity to carry out daily tasks. It is frequently persistent or chronic. Although it primarily affects the elderly, it is not a regular aspect of aging.
Dementia affects an estimated 50 million people worldwide, with more than 60% of those living in low- and middle-income countries. In 2030, the worldwide dementia population will reach 82 million people, rising to 152 million by 2050.
There are significant societal and economic challenges regarding the direct costs of medical, social, and informal dementia care. Physical, mental, and financial stresses can also place a lot of burden on families and caregivers. Dementia patients and their carers require support from the health, social, economic, and legal institutions.
Depression can be excruciatingly painful, making it difficult to function daily. Major depression affects 7% of the senior population and accounts for 5.7 percent of all YLDs in people over 60. Depression is underdiagnosed and undertreated in primary care settings.
Neglection of symptoms usually occurs since they co-occur with other elderly persons’ challenges. Older persons with depressive symptoms exhibited reduced functionality compared to people with chronic medical disorders such as lung ailments, hypertension, or diabetes. Depression also increases the perception of bad health and the utilization and cost of healthcare services.
Preparing health providers and societies to meet the unique needs of older people is critical, including health professional training in providing care for older people, preventing and managing age-related chronic diseases such as mental, neurological, and substance use disorders, developing sustainable long-term and palliative care policies and developing age-friendly services and settings.
We can improve seniors’ mental health by encouraging them to be active and healthy. Mental health-specific health promotion for older people comprises creating living conditions and environments that promote wellbeing and enable them to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Promoting mental health is heavily reliant on strategies that ensure that older people have the resources they need to meet their needs, such as providing security and freedom, adequate housing through supportive housing policies, social support for older people and their caregivers, health and social programs targeted at vulnerable groups, such as those who live alone or in rural areas, or who suffer from a chronic or relapsing mental or physical illness, and programs aimed at preventing suicide.
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