Did you know the first week of May is Mental Health Week? The Canadian Mental Health Association introduced Mental Health Week in 1951. It’s been a yearly event ever since. The goal of Mental Health Week is to raise awareness of mental health conditions. Mental health doesn’t get as much attention as physical health, and this week is an opportunity to change that.
Elderly people can have mental health conditions, just like younger people. In fact, one in five seniors suffer from mental health issues. If you’re providing elderly care to your loved ones, it’s important to pay attention to their mental health. Here are five elderly care tips to consider.
1. Help Your Loved Ones Age in Place
Your loved ones have been living in their home for a long time, and it’s important to help them stay there for as long as possible. Moving from home to another location—like a retirement home—is a risk factor for mental health issues. When elderly people move out of their homes, they may feel like they’ve lost their independence. They can also feel like they’ve reached the end of the road.
These feelings can lead to depression. Depression is very common among elderly people who’ve moved out of their homes. In nursing homes, about 40 percent of residents have depression. This depression ranges from mild to chronic. To help your elderly loved ones stay healthy, offer them support so that they can remain in their homes.
2. Provide Support with Daily Tasks
When people get older, they may need assistance with some of their daily tasks. Things that used to be easy, like cooking dinner, vacuuming, or getting dressed, can become a challenge. Losing the ability to do these types of basic tasks can be very upsetting for elderly people. Trouble with daily tasks is also a risk factor for mental health issues.
Try to help your loved ones with daily tasks. However, let them do as much as they can on their own. Retaining a sense of independence is important for good mental health. If you have to take over some tasks, like cooking, talk to your loved ones about their feelings. They may feel inadequate or helpless, and talking about their emotions can help.
3. Offer Companionship
Loneliness is common among elderly people. This loneliness can occur after the death or a spouse or life partner. Elderly people can also feel lonely if they’re living with other people but not having good conversations. Caregivers who are performing elderly care may not have time to focus on the deep, engaging conversations that elders need.
After a long day of work and caring for your loved ones, you be low on energy. This is the time to bring in professionally trained caregivers. Professional caregivers can offer companion care for your loved ones. Companion care includes things like conversation, hobbies, and spending time together.
4. Watch for the Signs of Mental Health Issues
When you spend time with your loved ones, pay attention for signs of mental health issues. Depression, anxiety, and substance abuse issues are some of the more common mental health issues that affect elderly people.
Depression can mean that people lose interest in their hobbies, have trouble sleeping, or neglect personal care tasks. Anxiety can result in trouble sleeping, avoiding social interaction, shallow breathing, or nausea. Substance abuse issues can mimic the signs of anxiety or depression.
5. Seek Professional Care
If you notice any changes in your loved ones’ behaviour, it’s important to get help. Due to the stigma surrounding mental illness, your loved ones may not seek help on their own. Help your loved ones find a doctor, and accompany them to their appointments.
Mental health treatments are available for elderly people, just like they are for younger people. Therapy, lifestyle changes, and medications may be recommended by your loved ones’ doctor.