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Mental Health in Older Adults

By: Kasia Krawczyk

The first Older Adult Mental Health and Aging Awareness Day was held on Friday, May 18,

2018. This year May 11th marks the 6th annual year that this event is taking place. Contrary to

stereotypes about aging, depression is not a “normal” part of getting older. It is a medical problem that

affects many older adults and can often be successfully treated. In addition, it is clear that our population

is aging - approximately 75 million Americans will be over age 65 by 2030. A study performed in 2012

showed that one in five older adults in the United States experienced a mental illness, substance use

disorder, or both. The increasing number of older adults with mental or substance use disorders could

have a tremendous impact on the healthcare needs of our nation and that is why this issue needs to be


Depression is often underrecognized and undertreated in older adults. Without treatment,

depression can impair an older adult’s ability to function and enjoy life, and can contribute to poor overall

health and well-being. The barriers that keep many older adults from accessing supportive mental health

services include denial, lack of information or knowledge, personal financial imitations, limited state and

federal funding, waiting lists, and biases. Yet overcoming those barriers is key to improving older adult

mental health.

There are a variety of different ways for older adults to help overcome and take control of their

depression, for example:

- Increased social interaction and spending time with family

- Trying to stay physically active, even if it just means going for a short walk

- Eating a nutritious diet

- Getting proper sleep

- And if necessary, seeking professional help from a physician or licensed counselor

Overall, depression and other mental health disorders are often overlooked and not thought about

when it comes to older adults. It is imperative that we keep in mind that anyone, at any age, can suffer

from a mental disorder and therefore, check up on your loved ones and let them know they have your

support if needed. The team at HOPE Hospice recognizes the importance of understanding and addressing

the mental health needs of our patients through an interdisciplinary approach to care. If you or your loved

one would like to know more on how HOPE can help, please contact us for more information.


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