May is Mental Health Month, and while society has gone a long way in reducing the stigma associated with mental illnesses and treatment, there are still segments of the population that have a negative view. Seniors are the least likely age group to seek out mental health care, according to the American Psychological Association. As the spotlight shifts to examine mental health care in the United States this month, seniors take a front row seat.
Many Seniors are Suffering.
It’s true that everyone experiences challenges, illness, major life events and even grief and loss. Any of these can trigger emotional and mental struggles. However, seniors are often burdened with additional issues relating to age that other generations may not understand. Examples include chronic medical conditions, isolation and loneliness, decreased mobility, dependence on elder care assistance, death of spouse and siblings and ageism.
Mental illness is not limited to the young and the middle aged. For example, the APA states that around 20 percent of seniors have depression and 11 percent of seniors struggle with anxiety. These two mental disorders can actually affect a senior’s physical health as well if left untreated. Seniors often avoid mental health services due to the stigma surrounding treatment, lack of insurance coverage, physical barriers like transportation and simple denial that they have a problem that needs treated.
Helping Aging Loved Ones With Mental Health Care
Family caregivers can do a lot to influence whether or not their aging loved one receives mental health care. Talking with physicians, friends and other family members about mental health can bring issues out into the open and give seniors a chance to think about treatment. Often, church leaders and other trusted individuals can help influence the elderly to give therapy a try.
Besides removing the stigma and any judgment about therapy, caregivers can clear away any obstacles that may stop their elderly loved one from completing therapy sessions. Transportation is a big reason why many seniors simply don’t attend therapy, so making arrangements with an agency as part of their elder care plan is important. Family members and friends can also help if needed. Assisting the senior in navigating coverage for mental health treatments through their insurance can also clear the way for regular sessions.
It’s Never Too Late for Senior Mental Health Evaluations.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your elderly loved one is just going through a phase or that their current behavior is just something that comes with age. Seniors may need a little extra encouragement to start treating their mental health issues, so it’s a good idea to provide them with the support they need to start. Not only will therapy help them deal with the major challenges they have, but their day-to-day life will also benefit as they feel happier and more positive about who they are, where they’ve been and what they have yet to accomplish.
If you have a loved one who could benefit from elder care in Orinda, CA, contact the caregivers at A Better Living Home Care Agency. We help seniors and their families with many levels of home care. Call 925-566-2366 for more information.