Mental Illness in Elderly Often Undiagnosed

Via KRIS-TV (Corpus Christi, Texas):

About 20 percent of adults aged 55 or older have experienced some type of mental health concern,  but nearly one in three of those seniors do not receive treatment.  Mental illness in seniors is hard to diagnose and is under-diagnosed or mistaken for other chronic health conditions.  Addressing mental health issues in older populations requires paying more attention, not less, when it comes to aging adults.   “With the elderly, we see physical problems. Inability to do the things they used to be able to do. Now they are more restricted in their activities, and they find themselves at a loss. Also, unfortunately as people get older, they start to lose more friends, more family, and become more isolated. So a generational aspect compounds the mental health aspect,” said Medical Director of Psychiatry at Bayview Behavioral Hospital Dr. John Lusins.  Seniors also tend to downplay their symptoms to family, caregivers, and their doctors, making mental illness difficult to spot.  “If you see signs such as your loved ones talking about being hopeless, worthless, having less energy, less interest, they are just isolating when previously they were up and about and joining in family activities. It could be things like dementia, depression, or anxiety,” said Dr. Lusins.  But when accurately diagnosed, mental health issues are just as treatable in older populations as in younger, but it takes commitment and understanding. About 5 percent of depression in the elderly goes undiagnosed. Being educated about the warning signs can help make detection of mental illness easier for loved ones and care givers.

 

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