Mental Health and Aging

January 10, 2020

Mental health is important at any age—and it’s important to continue to pay attention to mental health as we or those we love grow older. Some of the mental health challenges that older adults face are shared by the rest of the population, but some mental health issues are unique to an older demographic.

Risk Factors

As people age, risk factors such as reduced mobility, chronic pain, and physical health problems can increase. Stressful life events such as losing a loved one may also be more likely to occur during our golden years. Because physical health, mental health, and life circumstances all affect each other, these types of situations can increase the risk that older adults may become depressed or experience feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Types of Mental Health Problems

The most common mental health difficulties faced by people over 60 are depression and dementia. However, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, and self-harm also affect smaller percentages of the older population. It’s important to know the most common types of mental health problems people may face as they age, so that early diagnosis and treatment can help to improve quality of life as soon as possible.

Promoting Good Mental Health

A strong social network is key to good mental health at any age. Because older individuals are more likely to become isolated, focusing on social relationships is an excellent way to promote good mental health through the years.

Taking time to pursue hobbies and interests is another great way to stay mentally healthy. One of the benefits of retirement is extra time to do the things we enjoy. Resuming old hobbies, trying new activities, and volunteering or joining groups with similar interests can lead to increased well-being.

One of the simplest things you can do to promote good mental health is simply to learn and be aware of the unique mental health situations that older people face. This can help you to anticipate difficulties, practice good mental health techniques, and seek help for yourself or your loved one if the need arises.

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