While most folks know the risk of dementia increases with age, non-dementia-associated mental illnesses seldom get the attention deserved. Depression and anxiety are common issues for seniors. The symptoms of those conditions oftentimes go unnoticed because folks attribute them as natural parts of the process of aging.
What to be on the lookout for
Your family member might speak with you regarding feelings of depression, anxiety, or loneliness; however, this doesn’t happen frequently. Many folks do not recognize that they’re experiencing mental illness and attribute these feelings to natural sadness. However, feeling routinely overwhelmed, tired, and stressed is a symptom of something more severe.
Watch for the following mental illness symptoms:
- Social activity withdrawal – Has your family member stopped taking part in activities they once enjoyed? Social activity is critical for everyone, especially elderly adults. If you see your family member has been more reclusive, it may indicate something more severe.
- A decrease in appetite – It isn’t unusual for dietary habits to alter with age; however, everyone still requires their day-to-day nutrition. Skipping breakfast, lunch or dinner, or consuming very little food when they sit down to eat is another possible mental illness symptom.
- Irregular sleeping patterns – Sleeping more frequently is not abnormal in old age; however, it is vital that you have a routine sleep pattern with an abundance of rest at night. Be certain your family member is not waking several times in the night.
- Hygiene decline – Anxiety and depression may weigh so heavily upon someone’s mind that they might neglect crucial hygiene regimens such as brushing teeth or showering. Leaving their home without makeup or dressed in shabby clothing also are indicative of mental illness.
- Irregular mood patterns – Even those who suffer with depression do not feel sad all of the time. Do not mistake bursts of elation for mental health. Cycling through lows and highs all throughout the day is one other warning indication of mental illness.
If you suspect any concerns, encourage your family member to talk with their physician and/or a counselor. Home healthcare professionals are another great resource available to support your loved one. Reach out to our team at Saad Healthcare at our Alabama office at 1 (800) 279-7223 to learn more about how we’re helping families across the Gulf Coast.