Being mentally healthy means being in a state of emotional, psychological, and physical health. All three areas have an impact on our capacity for rational thought, positive mood, and effective behaviors. Several widespread risk factors affect mental health, and they can appear at any age or any moment. The majority of older persons have good mental health, but many are at risk of developing illnesses because of physical, social, neurological, or other environmental variables that are harmful to good mental health.
Around the world among seniors over the age of 60, 6.6% of them have a mental or neurological handicap, and around 15% have a mental condition. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 20% of seniors encounter mental health problems in one form or another. One of the most prevalent mental health conditions among seniors is depression.
In the United States, depression affects more than 5% of seniors, with the following risk factors that are sadly common to seniors contributing to the symptoms. Lack of social support, lack of access to home care help, absence of networks for mental health assistance, and illnesses can all take a terrible toll on mental health. Many elderly people will also experience despair for a full year after the death of their spouse, making it a common trigger for bouts of depression.
Depression in seniors can result in longer hospital stays, higher rates of readmission to hospitals, lower adherence to treatment plans, lack of motivation for recovery, self-neglect, increased risk of suicide, and decreased physical, cognitive, and social functioning. These are just a few of the negative health outcomes that depression in seniors can produce.
Seniors can also experience increased rates of depression as a result of being hospitalized, and up to 50% of elderly patients will experience depression. Even still, mortality rates are higher for patients with depression even after being released from the hospital.
Home care can help offer a basic safety net for elderly people and their families. While unpaid family home care providers make up about 19% of the US population, many family home caregivers can find themselves out of depth, with care either being too difficult, too demanding, or beyond their expertise. Without professional support, family home care help has much greater levels of emotional discomfort and worsened mental health. Family home care providers are overworked, underpaid, and exposed to harmful health impacts.
Professional home care helps in a number of ways. It can help keep seniors on a regular schedule, which will help them sleep better and be better able to perform other essential bodily activities. It can also help with monitoring sleep, meals, and medication compliance. Seniors who lack social resources as well can benefit from home care just by having a companion around. As the home care provider helps them manage their needs, they’ll engage in conversation, entertainment, exercise, and other activities that can help to fight the symptoms of depression that are brought on by solitude and loneliness. Professional home care also encourages things like getting out of bed, grooming, and other activities that entail goal setting achievement, further combating depressive symptoms.