How Do You Know When an Older Adult Needs Help With Their Mental Health?

Among those age 55 and older, about 20% have a mental health concern, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These include anxiety, mood disorders such as depression, and cognitive impairment. 

It’s also no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic forced many older adults into isolation to stay safe. This may have helped them avoid the dangerous virus, but the prolonged isolation caused its own mental health issues. 

So, how do you know when an older adult may need help from a health professional to cope with a mental health issue? Here are a few signs, according to Cleveland Clinic:

  • They are having more trouble sleeping.
  • They have lost interest in things they once enjoyed.
  • They have lost weight, which could be a sign that they are not cooking or eating enough.
  • Their hygiene habits have changed. For instance, they are showering less.
  • A once-tidy house and yard are now messy.
  • They are skipping or forgetting medication doses.
  • They are missing bill payments or paying too much.
  • They are isolated from communities in which they were once active.

If you answered yes to several of these questions, it’s time to talk with your loved one’s primary care doctor, who then may refer to a mental health professional, such as a psychologist or a geriatric psychiatrist. Early diagnosis can help your loved one get help for anxiety, depression, or memory loss and prevent further decline, according to the Cleveland Clinic. It also can help identify what is actually causing a mental health issue. For example, the symptoms of depression and dementia can look similar. 

Here are a few pointers from AARP as you work with your loved one’s health professionals to identify mental health concerns:

  • Ask your loved one’s doctor if a drug or drug combination could cause depression or tiredness. You also can work with a pharmacist to review all of their medications, in case they are causing mental health related side effects.
  • Talk to your loved one to find out how they are feeling. Listen to their answer, and do your best to offer support. Anxiety and depression in older adults often are undiagnosed. 
  • Take any talk about suicide seriously. Report any suicide talk to your loved one’s physician, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for advice (800-273-8255).

Call Secure Aging to Find Out How We Can Help Seniors With Care Management

At Secure Aging in Bradenton, we transform the weight of the world into a sigh of relief for our senior clients and their concerned family members. The mission of Secure Aging is to protect and preserve our client’s independence and dignity through careful and thoughtful financial and care management. As our clients age, it is their desire to remain independent and age with dignity. Our services protect our clients from talented con artists looking to exploit and deplete the financial resources of our vulnerable seniors. Secure Aging helps families in Manatee County and Sarasota County and in and around the communities of Anna Maria, Bradenton, Bradenton Beach, Ellenton, Holmes Beach, Lakewood Ranch, Longboat Key, Myakka City, Palmetto, Parrish, and Sarasota. Call us at 941-761-9338, or visit us online at

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