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Mental Illnesses Under-Diagnosed Among Seniors May Be the Reason Behind Dementia

The National Academy of Medicine published a report in 2014 called ‘The Mental Health and Substance Use Workforce for Older Adults: In Whose Hands?’ which clearly revealed that around 15-25% of the adults in the United States of America who are above the age of 65 are living with either one or more than one mental health conditions. This means more than 8 million people. Despite this staggering number, it has also been determined that mental disorders among older adults are mostly under-diagnosed and under-recognized.

The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry found that more than half of the adults who have crossed the age of 65 with some kind of mental health disorder went through very fewer chances of receiving any kind of proper mental health treatment as compared to the younger adults. Among them, only 9% had utilized professional and expert mental health care. As compared with middle-aged and younger adults, the seniors who are above 65 years of age are very less enquired by their doctor whether or not they felt anxious or tensed or scared. 25% of those who were screened had depression, and not even 40% were getting treated for the same.

Diagnosing mental health illness is also challenging

Well, if you take into account the bigger picture, you’ll see that there are several reasons behind mental health disorders being under-diagnosed and untreated among the elders. The seniors themselves are less eager to get the help of mental health care as compared to the younger adults, and this automatically increases their concerns among the primary care providers.

Due to the stigma that is attached to discussing mental health, many seniors hesitate to speak about their mental illnesses with someone unknown, despite them being health care professionals or therapists. The family members of the seniors usually wrongly believe that the symptoms of dementia and depression are usual with regards to aging. Apart from these, there are also confounding issues which tend to confuse all clinicians. The older generation grew up during a time when even speaking about psychiatric issues were taken with a terrible pinch, and this is why the symptoms of depression like low appetite, lack of sleep and concentration difficulties were also considered as a normal part of aging.

One more potential factor is that these days, there are too many seniors who are suffering from several other medical complications due to which they are kept under multiple medicines. This can also harm the person. It gets difficult to separate out other mental health disorders and depression from the already existing physical and medical conditions. Moreover, when the symptoms get similar to each other, it becomes even tougher to diagnose a specific mental disorder.

There are enough possibilities of effective treatment

Mental health disorders like dementia and Alzheimer’s are progressive in nature, and after living with it for few years, the patient will soon need to get the help of dementia care services. The experts find all the above-listed reasons to be gruesome as it is true that mental illnesses can undoubtedly be treated among seniors provided they’re diagnosed at an early stage. Once you offer them an effective and suitable treatment, their quality of life and their overall functioning abilities are immediately improved. The plethoras of treatments that are to be used on the seniors are similar to those that are usually used on younger adults like talk therapies and medications. Nevertheless, one thing that you need to keep in mind is that the seniors are generally more vulnerable to the side-effects of medicines which are not pretty common among the younger generation.

During a time when the patient is experiencing the symptoms of mental health disorders, the family members have to play a vital role to motivate the respective senior. He has to be taken to the doctor for the timely evaluation of his problems. The foremost step to take is to speak with the primary health care provider of the person. In case the primary health care provider recommends specialty care, you should immediately follow-up with the treatment. Possibly the worst thing that you can do with your loved one is do nothing. If you think that the symptoms will slide off with time, you’re wrong. Not only should you be proactive to take him to a doctor, but you should also motivate him to see a doctor.

Know what to look for in a health care provider before selecting him

If you’re a resident of Leppington and you’re looking forward to seeking the help of the home care Leppington services, or you usually are looking for a health provider, you should know how they should ideally be. Here are a few things to match in with a health care provider.

#1: Being a senior, you’re more than just a normal patient

Now that you’ve reached the 60 year age bracket, you should watch out for a primary health care provider who is well acquainted with the changes that occur to your mind, body, and life. This is not the time to find out specialists who are experts in dealing with issues related to the younger generation. You rather have to find out a specialist who will focus only on senior patients.

#2: The health care provider should know how to ‘Listen.’

Make sure you select someone who talks to you and knows how to listen to you rather than voicing his own opinions at first. He should explain to you only after he carefully listens to all that he has to say on his symptoms. One of the best quality traits to look for in a health care provider is his ability to listen to you, says a geriatrician of the American Geriatrics Society’s Health in Aging Foundation. Geriatricians are physicians who are totally dedicated to taking care of seniors. Watch out for such experts who know what to do with seniors.

#3: They should be life span experts

As the US population ages rapidly, there is always a short supply yet high demand for geriatric specialists. You’ll be rather happy to know that there are more than 7000 geriatricians who are board-certified in the nation, but it is also sad enough to note that this number is gradually declining every year. The problem that you may face is that you might not get access to a geriatrician in your locality. But you needn’t worry as family doctors can always keep you covered no matter your age. They are the ones who can take care of the total life spectrum.

#4: He should be a reliable person

When you begin your search, start by talking to your neighbors and friends so that you can get some of the best recommendations. Which are the practices in your local community that is accepting the application of new clients? Get in touch with them over the phone and try to know how their waiting list looks like. Enquire whether or not they accept insurance policies, including the different plans of Medicare. Don’t forget to ask whether or not you can contact someone when the office is closed. If someone is available even after working hours, you can prevent an unnecessary hospitalization of a patient.

#5: He should match your comfort level

As soon as you step into their waiting room, you should be able to feel that comfort level. Do they talk to everyone out there? Do they get along well with all the staff members? Do they have a welcoming environment inside the clinic? If they do, this sets a positive tone for the clients. There are places where you constantly feel like you’re on edge for an unknown reason. You’ll want a doctor who will never give you the feeling that they just have 5 minutes for you.

#6: Treatment should be based on evidence

There are expert professionals who always take a conservative approach while treating the aging patients as he believes that there is very little data to back the other modern treatments which are commonly used. Clinicians who will work with you should show enough caution before writing down medicines for the seniors. Before he puts you on medicine or recommends you to a specialist, he should treat you with evidence-based treatment.

#7: Geriatric professionals should know medication management

Geriatric specialists are experts in streamlining medicines by canceling the drugs which are no longer appropriate with the patient’s age. Did you know that there are more than 65 non-steroidal painkillers which can cause havoc damage to your kidneys? Here, pharmacists also play a pivotal role by taking out time to take a close look at their senior patients. Buy your medicines from one pharmacy, and you need to fix up one pharmacy where you get all your medicines. This makes it simpler for the pharmacists to remain aware of the side-effects and warn you about drug interactions.

More details on senior mental health

Your emotional, social, and psychological well-being constitutes your mental well-being. Your mental health will always have an impact on the way you reason, feel, and act. How you relate socially to others, how you tackle stress, and how you make your life choices are all controlled by your mental health. It is vital and imperative at every stage of life. Whenever someone goes through a psychological issue, his behavior, mood, and thought process are automatically affected.

Causes of mental health issues

  • Natural reasons like the genes and chemistry of the brain
  • Family heredity of health and psychological issues
  • Life involvements like shock and mistreatment

Mental health issues are treatable, and they’re pretty common too. However, when it occurs to seniors, they have to identify the symptoms and be quick in diagnosing them. The sooner they meet a therapist or a counselor, the sooner they can cure things.

Caution symptoms to be wary of among seniors

Are you still not sure about whether or not your loved one is living with some kind of mental health disorder? If answered yes, there are few initial symptoms and signs that you may watch out for.

  • Fighting without reason with family members and friends or shouting
  • Complaining about mysterious pains.
  • Feeling hopeless, helpless, and desperate.
  • Feeling strongly confused, upset, angry, worried, or scared.
  • Thoughts of hurting oneself
  • Feeling emotionless as if nothing else matters to him anymore.
  • Substance abuse
  • Depression which stays for a very long time
  • Alterations in eating and sleeping patterns

In case you notice a few of the signs mentioned above, get in touch with a mental health professional who can assess the symptoms and suggest solutions.

Assessment of the state of your mental health

Speech: The quantity of information you can process, your volume, disturbances in meaning and language

Cognition: Orientation, memory, concentrating and abstract thoughts

Perceptions: Perceptual conflicts and illusions

Content of thinking process: Continuity of delusions and ideas or getting suicidal thoughts

Insight: How much is the individual aware of his own problem.

Treatment of mental health issues

Few seniors hesitate to speak about their weakness to a health professional, but they don’t realize that this can be one of the reasons behind their illnesses. Here are a few treatment methods:

  • PSYCHOTHERAPY: Qualified mental health professionals offer this treatment where they explore thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and try their best to promote the well-being of the patient.
  • SUPPORT GROUPS: These are group meetings where the members help one another in recovering from their particular situation.
  • HOSPITALIZATION: If there are minor cases, the patient can also be hospitalized so that the doctors can test him and keep a closer watch on him. They can also adjust their medicines as per their need.
  • HOME CARE: For the older adults, home care is also a path of treatment where there will be a professional who can assist the patient with everyday jobs while giving him the comfort of staying in his home.

Therefore, now that you’re aware of how mental health disorders can affect seniors, prepare yourself for the treatments to comfort and cure them.

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