The mental health needs of older adults (around 13% of San Diegans35) can sometimes be overlooked because of isolation or not wanting to seem like a burden. Age dynamics can also make it challenging to start the conversation about an older adult’s mental health needs. While many older adults experience the same stressors as younger adults, they also face stressors like loss of mobility and physical ability, chronic pain, cognitive challenges, and other health concerns that require daily medication. They also experience different social struggles like lower socioeconomic status or bereavement of friends and family. Keep scrolling for more information on mental health in older adults.
Older adults experience higher rates of depression, anxiety, and loneliness. More than 2 million adults age 65 and older suffer from some form of depression.37
Clinical depression can be triggered by some diseases that are common later in life, like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, cancer, and arthritis.
COVID-19 heightened many stressors for older adults due to isolation and fear.
Widowhood can also lead to depression. One-third of adults show signs of depression in the first month after the death of a spouse. Half will show signs of depression after a year.
Many older adults experienced the death of friends and loved ones due to COVID-19.
85 years and older is the group with the highest rate of death by suicide.38
Effects on Physical Health36
Mental and physical health are just two halves of a person’s total health. Older adults who have physical health challenges, like heart disease, may show signs of mental health challenges as well, like depression, which can negatively affect total health.
Dementia is the deterioration of memory, thinking, behavior, and the ability to do everyday activities. Dementia can lead to a loss of physical ability and independence, which can lead to mental health challenges like depression.
Elder abuse includes verbal, physical, financial, sexual, and psychological abuse. It can include abandonment and neglect, and loss of dignity and respect. Abuse results in long-term consequences like depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and anxiety.
Depression is often overlooked in older adults and goes undiagnosed because its symptoms may occur with other challenges older adults face. However, depression can cause a lot of suffering and can impair daily life.
Whether you’re looking for help for yourself or looking for tips on how to help someone else, It’s Up to Us can link you to resources designed specifically to address the needs of older adults.Use Our Resource Tool