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How to Assess Mental Health Disorders in Older Adults

There is often a saying that there is not much difference between a child and an older adult: both seek attention and need care.

Like a child, older adults can become stubborn and experience shifts in mood over small matters.

However, while you can often persuade a child to follow certain routines, it is more challenging with older adults, particularly when it involves activities like exercise or dietary changes.

With age, various health issues arise, both physical and mental.

Physical health problems, such as difficulties in walking, digestive issues, or impaired vision, are often visible and easier to diagnose. In contrast, mental health issues in older adults are not as apparent.

Many senior citizens avoid discussing mental health and seeking treatment.

They may feel like a financial burden on their families and hesitate to add to the expenses.

However, if they share their struggles, it becomes easier for the family to diagnose and address these issues.

A primary caregiver can facilitate early detection and treatment by consulting a psychologist. Delays in seeking help can worsen their condition.

Understanding and recognizing the signs of mental illness in older adults is crucial.

It’s important to differentiate between typical age-related changes and symptoms of mental health disorders.

Beyond memory loss, signs of mental disorders in older adults can include changes in speech, appearance, and clothing choices, difficulties in performing simple calculations or handling finances, and forgetting to wear appropriate attire.

These signs should not be dismissed as normal aging but taken seriously. Early identification is key to effective treatment.

Ways to Assess Mental Health in Older Adults

As people age, they face numerous physical health challenges, such as back pain, hearing loss, refractive errors, osteoarthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and diabetes.

Often, these physical ailments mask underlying mental health issues, leading families to attribute symptoms of depression and stress to physical problems. Regular mental health assessments by family members are essential.

If there is any doubt, professional assistance should be sought immediately to avoid potential crises.

Here are some ways to assess the mental health of older adults, which can help determine if professional consultation is necessary:

Physical Fitness 

Observe for repeated hospitalizations, uneasiness, discomfort, pain, and symptoms of anorexia.

These can be indicators of underlying mental health issues.

Daily Routine and Personal Wellness

Monitor their ability to manage meals, use their phones, and dress appropriately.

Changes in these areas can signal mental health problems.

Cognitive and Emotional State

Look for frequent mood swings and feelings of loneliness.

These are common indicators of mental health issues.

Safety and Precautions

Ensure their safety while driving and check for financial security.

Neglecting these areas can be a sign of cognitive decline.

Memory Screening and Neuropsychological Assessments

Memory screening tests and neuropsychological assessments are crucial for diagnosing mental health issues in older adults.

A mental health professional can conduct these tests to determine if symptoms are due to aging or a mental health disorder.

Neuropsychological assessments evaluate psychological functioning, focus, learning, memory, spatial relationships, language, and mood. These assessments help in the early detection of mental illnesses and guide appropriate treatment.

Seeking Professional Help

At Athena Behavioral Health, we understand the care required for older adults with mental health issues.

If an older adult in your life shows any of the above symptoms or has been struggling with mental health for a long time, please reach out to us.

Our skilled staff, experienced health experts, and top-notch mental health facilities are here to help.

For consultations, contact us at or call us at +91 9289086193. It is our privilege to assist you and your loved ones in managing mental health challenges effectively.

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