Over time, aging people experience many changes, including physical, mental and emotional ones. With these changes come new healthcare needs that must be met to maintain optimal health and wellness. It is often easiest to notice the physical changes taking place; yet the mental and emotional changes may go untreated.
Instead of labeling elderly individuals as ‘senile’ or ‘crazy’, caregivers must recognize that many elderly people suffer from treatable mental illnesses. In the same way that skilled nursing facilities must provide for a patient’s physical care needs, it is also important to serve patients with reliable, consistent access to quality psychiatric providers who can effectively diagnose and treat mental illness in elderly individuals.
Depression is one example of mental illness common in older adults. According to the Geriatric Mental Health Foundation, depression affects 15 percent of all adults of age 65 in the U.S., and as much as half of all nursing home residents. Despite its high rate of occurrence, depression is not a normal part of the aging process. However, aging adults are prone to developing the disease as they cope with physical changes, personal losses, and lifestyle modifications. For some, it may be the loss of loved ones, whereas for others it may be brought on by issues like incontinence or insomnia. Even moving into a nursing home is enough to cause depression in many individuals.