Older Australians mental health is just as important as their physical health. Often though because your mental health is hard to see visibly, it is more likely to be neglected.
Ageing can be challenging, and at times you may find it more difficult to stay mentally strong and healthy. It can also be more difficult to acknowledge and address your concerns and reach out for support.
Education, resources and support are available though for Older Australians mental health. Knowing where to go to get them, can help benefit your everyday life.
What is mental health?
Our mental health impacts how we feel, think and act. Because of this it also affects our everyday life and how we behave in our environment. This is why looking after your social and emotion wellbeing is just as important as your physical health.
Older Australians mental health needs to be a priority to ensure they get the support they need to stay healthy and safe at home.
What are some causes for decline in Older Australians mental health?
There are many risk factors that can cause a decline in Older Australians mental health. Some of these include:
- Social isolation.
- Illness or health conditions.
- Loss of independence.
- Grief from loss of a loved one.
- Financial stress.
- Move away from home, or change.
What are common illnesses that impact Older Australians mental health?
Dementia is not a single disease but a syndrome. Dementia is caused by brain lesions which can cause a decrease in brain function.
Possible psychological changes associated with dementia include personality changes, depression, anxiety, misbehaviour, paranoia, agitation and hallucinations, etc.
Depression is more common than we think, and geriatric depression is not a normal part of ageing.
Getting older doesn’t have to be associated with having a bad mood or a weird personality.
This kind of depression can be cured, however, it is important to deal with it positively in order to enjoy life.
Symptoms of geriatric depression include complaining, crankiness, restlessness and an increased fear of death.
As older Australians age, they will encounter psychological challenges, and their sense of anxiety will also increase.
If we understand these psychological challenges, we can create a more suitable environment for them and be able to provide suitable treatment.
The symptoms of anxiety and related disorders include panic, fear, obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress syndrome.
4. Substance Abuse.
Non-prescribed and self-increasing behaviours are known as substance use disorders.
Older Australians do not take medicines as prescribed by their doctors, especially sleeping pills, and often take several kinds of drugs together at once.
Some may take sleeping pills at night and may nap during the day because they are worried about poor sleep.
Where can you get support?
A good first step for Older Australians mental health concerns is reaching out to you or your loved one’s doctor. If necessary, they can refer you to support services that best suit your situation and needs.
They are also unbiased and can offer confidential support to you and suggest other services that could help you.
There are many other supports available to support Older Australians mental health, they include:
- Open Arms (mental health support for veterans, ADF personnel and their family members) – online help
- Head to Health (for advice, assessment and referral into local mental health services) – call 1800 595 212 from 8:30am to 5pm on weekdays (public holidays excluded)
- Beyond Blue (for people feeling depressed or anxious) – call 1300 22 4636 or chat online
- SANE Australia (people living with a mental illness) – call 1800 18 7263
- Black Dog Institute (people affected by mood disorders) – online help
- Lifeline (for anyone having a personal crisis) – call 13 11 14 or chat online
- Suicide Call Back Service (24/7 counselling for anyone thinking about suicide) – call 1300 659 467
We hope this article has been helpful in bringing awareness to ways to identify Older Australians mental health concerns, symptoms, causes and where to turn to for support. As always if you have concerns, we recommend reaching out to a medical health professional for advice and support.