According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in three seniors with a mental issue doesn’t receive proper diagnosis or treatment. At-home caregivers or doctors sometimes assume emotional symptoms are related to some form of dementia or other conditions affecting cognitive behaviors and mood. The following emotional conditions are considered common among seniors.
Late-life depression affects more than 5 million people 65 and older, yet only a fraction of those seniors are getting any type of treatment. Lingering depression in the elderly can increase the risk of some heart conditions, disrupt sleep patterns and change eating habits. Hypnotic drugs like Ambien or Lunesta tend to be safer for seniors than benzodiazepines like Xanax when treating depression. Therapy and increased social interaction can also be beneficial.
Anxiety is more common in seniors than depression. It’s also often undiagnosed and sometimes dismissed as being a normal part of aging by adult children providing home care for an elderly parent. However, constant worry and anxiousness can impact everything from sleep patterns to how well a senior recovers from illness. One study found that most senior participants reported reduced anxiety after being placed on at least one selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) like Celexa, Prozac or Zoloft.
3. Bipolar Disorder
Manic mood swings from moments of happiness to extreme sadness aren’t a normal part of aging. Since seniors with bipolar disorder exhibit signs of decreased cognitive functioning, proper diagnosis often includes a complete medical evaluation to eliminate other conditions. Treatments include talk therapy and medication (as long as it doesn’t interfere with medications for other conditions).
4. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Anywhere from 60 to 90 percent of adults 65 and older have been exposed to at least one traumatic event in their lifetime. Some seniors with more time to reflect back on such experience may develop some degree of PTSD. More recent experiences like a severe accident, the death of loved one or some type of unreported abuse can also emotionally impact seniors. Treatment typically includes therapy along with increased support.
For some seniors, emotional issues like depression and anxiety are rooted in feelings of uselessness or loneliness. After speaking with your loved one’s physician, you might consider speaking with your loved one about the possibility of part-time or live-in elderly home care. At Home Care Assistance, our compassionate caregivers are expertly trained to help with everyday tasks while encouraging as much independence as possible. They also serve as a pillar of emotional support and companionship for their senior clients. To learn more about how our care services can promote your loved one’s overall health and wellbeing, please call a Care Manager at 484-350-3874.