Community Blog

Warning Signs of Mental Health Issues in Seniors

By Michelle Brown

May is mental health month and a good time to review some signs that could indicate your loved one may be experiencing some issues related to their mental well-being. As a caregiver to a senior, it is important to be on the lookout for early red flags. This is also true if for anyone who has a prior mental illness diagnosis. The aging process has also proven to bring about changes that may have not been noticed before. With age and a changing medical regimen, new symptoms can appear and different treatment may be necessary.

Common Symptoms

It is always a good idea to consult a healthcare provider if you observe changes in one's health. The following symptoms may signal mental health issues:

  • Loss of interest in socializing or previous hobbies
  • Disorientation, decreased ability to focus or make decisions
  • Impairment in short-term memory or noticeable deterioration in memory
  • Sustained or increasingly frequent feelings of sadness, guilt, or helplessness

You may also notice changes in the ability to function in daily life. Some may be due to physical problems or just symptoms of aging. However, especially in cases where there isn't a physical explanation, decrease in these functions can also stem from mental health problems:

  • Hygiene and appearance
  • Maintenance of house and yard
  • Eating regular meals
  • Sleeping patterns

In general, you are advised to speak with a doctor if you notice changes in weight, energy levels or mood. Pains or digestive issues that do not seem to improve with treatment can also be signs of mental health declining.

Dealing With Mental Illness in Seniors

Sometimes, a senior may have a longstanding diagnosis of a mental illness, which he or she has been effectively managing for years. Advancing age, newly developing conditions, a more complicated medication regimen can change that, resulting in newer or worse symptoms. In other cases, a mental illness can arise for the first time.

Whatever the circumstances, it is important to work with your loved one's healthcare team to find an optimal management strategy. There are various treatment options available. Some of the most common ones include:

  • Medication
  • Support groups
  • Behavioral therapy
  • Psychotherapy

Many people are able to manage their symptoms with one of these methods or a combination of them. Finding the right approach can take time. Therapy does not deliver instant results. When medication is indicated, it can take several tries to figure out the right drug and dosage. This is especially true for seniors, who may be already taking various medications for other conditions.

Having a care professional assist with providing the right type of at-home care can contribute significantly to your loved one's well being and health. Home Helpers offers a variety of professional care services to meet different levels of need. Call us at (484) 461-8887 and learn more about available options.