Mental Health Awareness Month was originally celebrated in 1949. That was 73 years ago! The goals of the sponsoring organization, originally the National Committee for Mental Hygiene, (now Mental Health America), were to improve attitudes toward mental health/illness, improve services for mental health clients, and promote mental health.
There are multiple reasons why older adults are more at risk for depression. They’ve lost their independence and can no longer do things like they’ve always done. They can feel like they are a burden on their family and have no sense of purpose. They may have had a loss of loved ones, family, or friends. They may even fear the future. Also, some medications, or combination thereof, can lead to depression.
Potential signs of mental health distress in seniors include low motivation and loss of interest in activities that they used to enjoy, lack of energy, and increased pain, such as arthritis or headaches. They can have difficulty sleeping or start sleeping more. Changes in their appetite, either eating more or less than what’s normal for them, is also an indicator.
It is important to attend to mental health just like you would physical health. Depression can cause physical problems. It can increase the risk of cardiac diseases and death from an illness. It causes a higher rate of suicide. It also increases the cost of healthcare. Besides the physical and financial stress it can cause, we want our seniors to live out their days happy and enjoying life.
At The Boulevard Senior Living St. Charles, MO we understand depression is a treatable condition like diabetes or hypertension. Don’t settle for being depressed at any age! It is not a normal part of getting older. A primary care physician or mental health specialist can address chronic feelings of sadness.