The stigma surrounding mental health issues is slowly fading as many brave people are publicly sharing more about their own experiences. Society in general is also becoming more accepting of mental health problems and treatments, creating a more comfortable environment where people of all ages and backgrounds are encouraged to step forward and get help. However, seniors still struggle with the social stigma of mental health problems and are among the least likely to seek treatment.
Because May is Mental Health Month, the media, communities and mental health groups are shining the spotlight on various issues, including elderly mental health care. The American Psychology Association has compiled some research findings that take a look at the elderly and their mental health issues. The information is important for everyone with an aging loved one in their life.
Here are 5 statistics on seniors and mental health that may surprise you.
- According to the APA, more than 20 percent of American seniors over 65 meet the criteria for mental illness, yet they are the group that is least likely to be treated for it.
- Despite nearly 40 percent of psychologists that report they have clients that are 65 years and older, only 4.2 percent have specialized training and education in geropsychology, the treatment of aging and elderly adults.
- Older adults face a number of obstacles to receiving mental health diagnoses and treatments, including social stigma, denial of any problems, insufficient insurance coverage, and physical obstacles like transportation and inability to locate proper providers.
- Research shows that as many as 1 in 5 elderly adults in the United States suffer from depression, and when untreated, depression in seniors can lead to significantly more adverse physical conditions than in younger adults.
- Substance abuse in seniors, a common form of self-treatment for mental health issues is on the rise. Estimates show that there will be approximately 4.4 million seniors in need of treatment in the year 2020, up from 1.7 million in 2000.
Family caregivers with aging loved ones often do a fine job in taking care of physical needs, but may overlook mental health issues. Some of the most common major mental health problems in seniors are depression, anxiety, late onset bipolar, post-traumatic stress disorder and late onset schizophrenia. However, physicians, friends and family members often miss the warning signs as they assess elder care needs because many of the symptoms of these mental health disorders look like symptoms of many age-related diseases and conditions. Often, a correct diagnosis is tricky to find in seniors, especially if they have enjoyed good mental health for most of their life.
Anyone that believes their elderly loved one may be suffering from mental illness should make arrangements for a thorough examination and evaluation. Finding a therapist that specializes in senior and aging issues is a good idea, as well as a comprehensive physical exam to rule out any medical conditions. Caregivers should also ensure that physical obstacles that might prevent treatment are removed, such as arranging with the insurance company and setting up transportation with an elder care agency, family members or friends.
The good news is that with consistent treatment and a focus on improvement, many seniors that struggle with mental health issues go on to enjoy a happier and healthier future.
If you or an aging loved one are considering elder care in Santa Rosa, CA, call At Your Service Home Care. Call today! Sonoma County: (707) 238-5700 or Marin County: (415) 942-8955.
She became a discharge planner and immediately fell in love with the concept of home care and the autonomous clinical practice it affords nurses. Dr. Lucy was hooked and has been a strong supporter of home care ever since.Believing people need advocates in healthcare systems, she has championed that cause across the acute care and post-acute care setting.
Dr. Lucy has worked in every aspect of home care from Medicare Certified, DME, Infusion, Hospice and finally Private Duty/Private Pay services. She also works as a home care consultant across the country and as a legal nurse consultant for the home care industry.
Having worked in all areas of home care, Dr. Lucy has a well-rounded perspective of the challenges facing patients, families and the home care industry, and as a provider she advocates for patients through the maze of health care services. Dr. Lucy celebrated over 37 years as a nurse and patient advocate.
Dr. Lucy has a Baccalaureate Degree in Nursing from Lewis University, Romeoville, Illinois.In 1994, she received her Masters of Science in Health Service Administration from St. Mary's University, Moraga, California. Dr. Lucy received her Doctor of Nursing Practice awarded in 2016, graduating with Distinction and a 4.0 GPA.
She did her doctoral work on the global dementia crisis, aging and prevention strategies for healthy living. Developed dementia and Alzheimer's disease plans for aging patients leaving the hospital setting or entering long-term care or home health and hospice environments. She also developed a specialized program for those at risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
In 1992, Dr. Lucy was designated CAHSAH Certified Home Care Administrator in the inaugural offering of this designation through the California Association for Health Services at Home (CAHSAH).
She is the founder and CEO of Creative Solutions Home Care Consulting Services and At Your Service Nursing & Home Care, a concierge nursing & home care agency that provides the services she believes are essential for seniors to age in place.She offers a higher level of care allowing people to be in their own homes with an emphasis on independence, safety, and quality of life.
Dr. Lucy is the Vice Chair of the Board of Directors for the National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC) and sits on the Board of Directors for California Association for Health Services at Home (CAHSAH).
She has served on the boards for both state and national board associations, and is currently on the following boards and committees: Board of Directors, California State Association for Health Services at Home (CAHSAH), 2002-present, National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC's) Private Duty Home Care Association Director, and multiple state and national home care committees.
Dr. Lucy goes to Washington, DC, several times a year to advocate for senior services and home care issues. She was past Commissioner for the Sonoma Commission on Human Rights.She is past chair of the local Senior Advocacy Services.
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