There are several risk factors that influence mental health in the general population. However, older people tend to have a greater predisposition to develop related problems. The continuous and significant loss of abilities and decline in functional capacity characteristic of age may result in isolation, loneliness, and/or psychological distress, which may require special long-term care.
“MENTAL HEALTH IMPACTS PHYSICAL HEALTH AND VICE VERSA.”
Mental health should be monitored with the same attention and care as other health problems, and should be preserved as much as possible, not least because certain illnesses have an emotional origin and/or can be worsened by mental problems (e.g. insomnia, head/body aches, heart/respiratory/digestive problems).
It is necessary to be attentive to signs that may indicate some emotional alteration in the elderly, such as:
- Excessive fatigue or apathy;
- Anxiety attacks and feelings of sadness;
Loss of self-esteem, lack of energy;
- Irritability and difficulty concentrating/thinking.
Thus, it is extremely important to alert and prepare society, services and caregivers to the specific needs of the elderly population, including:
- Training of health care professionals in the care of older persons;
- Prevention and management of age-related diseases, including mental and neurological disorders;
- Development of elderly-friendly services and environments.
Promoting the mental health of the elderly – Active and Healthy Aging – depends heavily on strategies to ensure that they have the resources to meet their needs, such as:
- Develop social and health programs specifically designed for vulnerable groups;
- Promote safety and freedom, and social support for the elderly and caregivers.
Recognizing and treating mental and neurological disorders as quickly as possible is essential. There is currently no drug available to cure dementia, for example, but much can be done to support and improve the lives of people suffering from this disease, or suffering from depression, as well as their caregivers and family members. Examples are:
- optimizing physical and mental health;
- identifying and treating physical and associated physical and mental illnesses;
- early diagnosis;
- providing information and long-term support for caregivers.
In short, it is very important to seek specialized medical help and support as soon as any of the above signs are detected.
The vast majority of Senior Residences have professionals who provide a psychological support service to the caregiver and the resident, providing an improvement in quality of life and well-being for all involved.
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