As we grow older, it is natural for our brain’s health to deteriorate. Severe mental disorders in old age can affect people’s quality of life. It can affect memory, cause confusion and impede the ability to perform simple tasks.
One of the earliest symptoms of mental illness in the elderly is memory loss in varying degrees. Psychiatric disorders in the elderly are also common, along with a host of other physical conditions. But with proper care, it is possible to manage mental health of elderly in a healthy manner.
Common Mental Disorders in Old Age
Depression is a psychiatric disorder that is quite common in the elderly. Psychiatric disorders affect mood, thinking and behavior, and the symptoms can include mood swings, fatigue, anxiety, appetite loss and sleeping troubles. Depression can cause a feeling of sadness or despair that can persist for a long time. Psychiatric disorders are only a cause of concern when the symptoms are prolonged.
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Depression can occur due to changing lifestyle in old age.Retirement can make some people experience a sense of worthlessness, along with factors like menopause (for women) and loss of a partner. Various physical ailments and prolonged illnesses can also lead to depression.
Dementia is another common mental disorder in old age. It affects memory and the ability to perform tasks. Dementia can occur as the result of brain cells dying in the old age, due to brain injury or due to fluid build-up in the brain. The elderly can forget how to dress in public or what is not appropriate in terms of behavior. Dementia can also affect communication skills, impair reasoning and cause hallucinations.
The disorder can include different types of memory-related disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. Elderly with dementia can suffer from a poor quality of life unless it is managed well. It has no cure and needs to be managed with long-term support.
Another common neurological disorders in the elderly that affects memory is Parkinson’s disease, which first affects movement and then memory. Muffled speech, depression, irritability and sleep disturbances are common signs of Parkinson’s disease.
Older people can also be affected by late-onset bipolar disorder. The symptoms can be the same as depression or dementia, making it difficult to diagnose.
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Dealing with Mental Disorders in Old Age
When the symptoms of mental disorders become severe, it is often difficult to treat them. Elderly individuals can opt for psychotherapy to manage their depression or can go for anti-anxiety medication (on doctor’s prescription), if needed. For other mental illnesses, managing the condition with the help of your medical team and family members is the only solution.
To manage mental disorders in the old age, it is important to notice the warning signs and take steps to curb them from the start. Slight slips in memory or repeated mood swings in people who are over 60, must not be ignored.
Regular health checkups are also crucial in old age. Your doctor can diagnose mental illnesses in time to stop the symptoms from worsening.
It is also important to eat and sleep well to keep the mind healthy. Older people must eat a diet rich in healthy fats to keep the mind functioning well. Exercise and social activities are important to keep the mind active and strong, and the elderly are recommended to partake in such events. Avoiding alcohol and smoking are also important to keep the brain healthy.
Family support plays an important role in helping senior citizens manage their mental health well, and it’s probably the best remedy to fight any type of old-age mental disorders.
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