Prioritising Mental Health Care for the Elderly: A Critical Need

By Pimsupa Puthipiroj


In an age where mental health awareness is receiving unprecedented attention, the mental well-being of the elderly remains a significantly neglected area. With the global population of individuals aged 65 and over expected to nearly double from 12% to 22% by 2050, as per the World Health Organization, addressing mental health care for this demographic is of utmost importance. This article delves into the importance of prioritising mental health care for the elderly, drawing insights from the realms of general practice and psychiatry.


A Hidden Issue


Mental health issues among the elderly, notably depression and anxiety, often go unnoticed and untreated. This oversight partly stems from the misconception that such conditions are a natural aspect of ageing. However, mental health disorders profoundly impact the quality of life for the elderly, affecting physical health, social engagement, and overall well-being.


Challenges and Ramifications


Elderly individuals encounter unique challenges that predispose them to mental health issues. The transition into retirement, the loss of a spouse or peers, and coping with chronic illnesses or diminished physical capabilities can lead to isolation, loneliness, and existential distress. These mental health challenges intertwine with physical health; depression, for instance, has been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and can impede recovery from surgery or illness. Moreover, untreated mental health conditions can worsen the decline in cognitive function, further complicating care.


Taboos Surrounding Medication


Medication plays a crucial role in managing symptoms, enhancing quality of life, and preventing potential deterioration of mental health conditions in older adults. However, societal taboos surrounding medication can pose significant barriers to treatment. These taboos often arise from misunderstandings, stigma, or cultural beliefs, resulting in reluctance or shame in seeking and using medication. It is vital to challenge these taboos and promote a supportive environment where elderly individuals feel empowered to prioritise their mental well-being through appropriate medication use, ultimately leading to better mental health outcomes and overall wellness in this demographic.


A Comprehensive Approach to Care


Effective mental health care for the elderly demands a holistic approach that goes beyond medication management. It entails creating a supportive environment that encourages social interaction, physical activity, and engagement in meaningful activities. Tailored interventions, taking into account the individual's background, medical history, and personal preferences, are crucial. Integrating mental health care into general practice, where physicians understand the patient's overall health journey, offers a promising avenue for addressing these needs comprehensively.


Moving Forward


Addressing the mental health needs of the elderly is an urgent concern that requires immediate and concerted efforts. As healthcare providers, families, and communities, we must advocate for and implement comprehensive mental health care strategies that respect the autonomy, preferences, and lifestyles of older adults.


For individuals or families seeking support in navigating the complexities of mental health care for the elderly, resources and professional guidance are available. At HealthDeliver, we are committed to providing compassionate care that addresses the unique needs of each individual, ensuring the mental and emotional well-being of our elderly loved ones and laying the foundation for a life marked by tranquillity and joy in the golden years.

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