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Mental health disorders and problems affect all people of all age groups. While many people may not realize it, the elderly often experience mental health concerns with 1 out of every 4 older adults struggling with a mental illness. By 2030, many professionals believe this number will double. If you are concerned about your loved one and believe that they may be struggling mentally, it is important to closely watch over them to make sure they are safe and secure. 

What Are Mental Health Problems?

Mental health problems can often stem from a variety of situational, social, and environmental stressors. They indicate a gradual decline in mental clarity and can greatly affect how a person feels and carries themselves. Mental health issues typically encompass feelings related to sadness and nervousness but should not be used to define the feeling of those emotions. A mental illness or disorder can only be diagnosed by a licensed professional after symptoms have persisted for a specific amount of time. Some typical symptoms related to mental health issues are:

  • Feeling sad or upset
  • Suicidal thoughts and ideations
  • Excessive amounts of fear 
  • Extreme feelings of guilt
  • Detachment from reality, paranoia, or auditory or visual hallucinations
  • Frequent or excessive anger, hostility towards others, or violence of any kind
  • Mood changes that range from extreme highs to extreme lows
  • Inability to cope with daily stressors
  • Trouble relating to others

If your loved one has been experiencing multiple of the following symptoms for an extended period of time, you may want to have them evaluated by a mental health professional so that they can receive the help that they need in order to feel better. 

Common Mental Health Issues Among The Elderly

While mental health concerns for the elderly rise, many people may be more concerned for their loved ones than ever before. The elderly do experience very real mental health concerns that should not be ignored. The most common mental health problems faced by seniors today are depression, anxiety, and dementia. Depression and anxiety typically go hand-in-hand when it comes to diagnoses and may be more prevalent in elderly people living alone or in a care facility. Dementia, being one of the worst degenerative mental health issues, affects around 11 percent of adults older than 65. 

How to Recognize Mental Health Problems in the Elderly

When trying to evaluate if your loved one is experiencing mental health problems, it can be hard to evaluate which behaviors are normal and which behaviors are indicative of a problem. Some of the behaviors associated with mental illness include.

  • Drastic changes in eating habits 
  • Consistent low energy and problems sleeping
  • Withdrawal from normal activities and hobbies
  • Excessive drug and alcohol abuse
  • Inability to concentrate 

If you notice any of these physical symptoms in your loved one you may want to consider speaking to them about their mental health and how they’ve been feeling. You can and should also contact a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist and have them evaluate your loved one as well.