Top 3 Psychological Disorders that Affect the Elderly - Best Health Review

February 2019

As people age, it is not just their physical health which is affected by the aging process but also their mental health. Because of this, it is important to make sure that older adults are monitored and assessed regularly for any signs of psychological disorders that they may already have or may be at risk of having. Read on to learn more about the top three psychological disorders that affect the elderly.

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Dementia is probably the most common psychological disorder in the elderly, affecting one in 20 people who are over the age of 65 and one in four people who are over the age of 85. It is described as the gradual decline in the mental ability of an individual and is often caused by damage to the neurons that in the brain, which is usually brought about by the aging process. It is also often caused by a common condition in the elderly which is Alzheimer's disease. Some of the symptoms of dementia include short-term memory loss, restlessness, confusion, agitation and a disturbance in an individual's sleeping pattern. Currently, there is no cure for dementia but research shows that its onset can be slowed down or altogether prevented by making sure that the individual regularly engages in activities that can stimulate his or her brain functions. Some examples of such activities include working on puzzles, reading books and conversing with other individuals.

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Another psychological problem that affects many seniors today would be depression. As a matter of fact, statistics show that over 6.5 million who are over the age of 65 suffer from depression. It is important for elderly individuals who are suffering from depression to be properly diagnosed and get proper treatment as they have a much greater risk of committing suicide compared to younger individuals who are also suffering from depression. Some of the symptoms of depression in the elderly include disturbed sleep patterns, low energy levels, loss of appetite and having suicidal thoughts. Late-life depression is typically treated through psychotherapy and the administration of antidepressants, which can help in restoring the balance of the chemicals that are in the brain.

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Delirium is a state of sudden mental confusion that is commonly experienced by elderly individuals who have an adverse reaction to a certain medication, treatment or illness. It is characterized by: a sudden inability to concentrate; impaired consciousness; and slower brain activity. The condition can be diagnosed though an EEG or an electroencephalogram and through physical assessment. Once the condition is confirmed, the individual could then be given certain antipsychotic medications such as haloperidol which can treat the symptoms.

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If you have elderly loved ones, knowing the common psychological disorders that can affect them can make it easier for you to know the symptoms that you should watch out for which can, in turn, ensure early diagnosis and treatment. By making sure that their psychological disorder is diagnosed and treated early on, you can help them in living their golden years as healthy and happy as they can possibly be.

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