With May being Mental Health Awareness Month, it’s the perfect time to check in on your elderly loved one. As our parents, grandparents and elderly friends age, it’s easy to see the physical repercussions. Mental Health, however, hosts more difficult illnesses to notice. Among older adults, mental illnesses are often misdiagnosed, ignored, or mistakenly attributed to their aging process. Below are common mental illnesses and warning signs to look out for, so you can help ensure that your loved one gets the help they need.
1. Eating Disorders
Eating disorders are a very common, but often overlooked mental illness in older adults. As people age, their appetite may alter or change, and the result can be a decreased appetite. Factors like medication, childhood trauma and depression can also affect an elderly individual’s appetite. If you suspect your loved one may be struggling with an eating disorder, it’s important to contact their primary physician. Getting enough calories and the right nutrients is an important part of healthy aging.
Although there is no exact way to test for Dementia, it’s important to identify it early and begin the discussion with a doctor on how to slow the signs of the disease. If your loved one is having trouble communicating, showing impaired reasoning and judgement, lacking ability to focus, or expressing memory issues, it could be time to talk to a doctor about Dementia.
3. Bipolar Disorder
Because the warning signs of Bipolar Disorder are confusion, loss of judgement, and irritability, this mental illness can often be misdiagnosed as Dementia. It’s important to talk with a doctor about the differences between the two if you are concerned your loved one is exhibiting these symptoms so they can avoid being misdiagnosed and treated for the wrong disease.
Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses in older adults. Being faced with chronic illnesses, the loss of an elderly friend or partner, and limited mobility can lead to a depressed state. If your loved one has a sudden loss of interest in their favorite activities, seems down or hopeless, displays a change in appetite, or is having trouble sleeping, it might be the right time to talk to your loved one and bring up your concerns to a doctor.
Please keep in mind these are just a few of the mental illnesses to look for when checking in on your loved one’s mental health. With any concern, its best to speak to a doctor to properly diagnose and develop a treatment plan unique to the patient.
At Loretto, we take a holistic approach to care, addressing the mind, body, and spirit. Our system of care is dedicated to providing the highest quality of life possible for the individuals who use our services. Person-First care is what sets us apart, with over 2,500 dedicated caregivers and 19 specialized programs and facilities. Interested in learning how we can help you or a loved one? Contact us today! We can help you find the best programs and services for your needs.