Hemangi Mhaprolkar is a Psychologist & Outreach Associate with Mpower – The Centre. Hemangi provides invaluable insights on the state of mental health among our senior citizens and what can be done about it.
Poor mental health is a genuine concern among the elderly in India. Geriatric depression is alarmingly high at 21.9% which is higher than the international average of 4.7%–16%. Identifying the underlying cause of depression in our elderly can help to control the condition and make life a whole lot nicer for them.
7 Things That Cause Psychological Problems In The Elderly?
Along with age comes a host of physical problems that can restrict activity. Many retired people who are used to being active all their lives can find this new stage very frustrating. In their mind most elderly people still feel that they can get so much more done, but when their bodies don’t cooperate it can lead to loss of interest and even depression.
Modern times have seen a change in the family dynamic with more and more young adult moving away from home to work and live in different cities or countries. Elderly parents are often left on their own which can get very lonely. A deep longing to see their children and grandchildren can lead many elderly people to depression.
Old age is a terrible thing when you start losing friends and family. Many old people in the 70s and 80s have to cope with the loss of a spouse, sibling, childhood friends, and sometimes even their own children. Loss of a loved one is hard for anyone but especially hard for the older generation as they see their whole era coming to an end.
Suddenly having to depend on other people for everything can be both scary and annoying. As geriatrics need more help with their day to day activities, even getting dressed or using the washroom, life can get very difficult. The loss of abilities can be a very sad time for our older generation.
A loss of memory can be very frightening. Imagine not being able to remember where anything is, forgetting your neighbour’s name, and not sure if you took your medication. Losing their memory, a fear of Alzheimer’s and dementia all the other changes can drive an elderly person to go into a depressive state.
Lack of exercise
While many elderly people simply don’t have the energy to get any exercise, some are scared of falling and hurting themselves and becoming a burden to others. Whatever the reason, a lot of old people don’t get enough exercise and can in the long run lead to depression.
The lack of exercise can have another side-effect and that is insomnia. When they body has unused energy, it is much harder to fall asleep. Long-term insomnia has been linked to poor mental health.
All these factors have led to a rise in mental health issues in geriatrics. A lack of awareness, poor mental health services for the elderly, and the stigma attached to mental health is causing many people who need help to not seek it out. As a society we need to come together to ensure that our senior generation are getting the care they require to help with the treatment and prevention of mental health conditions.