How To Deal With Mentally Ill Seniors

How To Deal With Mentally Ill SeniorsSeniors are more susceptible to mental issues due to aging and declining health. Learn how to deal with your mentally ill senior loved one.

As people age, they undergo significant changes in their lives, such as retirement, declining health, loneliness, or bereavement. These massive changes can eventually affect their mental health and cause problems like depression, anxiety, or dementia. The World Health Organization states that about 15% of seniors 60 and over have mental health concerns.   

The good news is that senior mental health concerns are treatable as long as patients get the proper treatment and support as early as possible. If you have aging parents or grandparents in your household, you need to know how to take care of them, especially when they’re mentally ill. With their declining mental and physical health, they’ll need you now more than ever to help them thrive again.   

I’m writing this article because I am a bestselling wellness author with about 2 million books sold globally.

Plus I founded the therapist recommended video course called The Anxiety Cure.

So I decided to put together this article to help people to know how to best manage and deal with mentally ill seniors.

5 Ways To Deal With Mentally Ill Seniors

Read on to learn some tips and strategies for dealing with mentally ill seniors and helping them make the most of their golden years. 

1. Hold a conversation 

When you see signs that your senior loved one is dealing with a mental health concern, the first thing you can do is hold a conversation with them. Talking about mental illness can be a sensitive subject for most people, so ensure you follow these tips when starting a conversation about it:  

  • Maintain a calm voice and warm demeanor. 
  • Pick the best time when you and your senior loved one are calm and in a good mood. 
  • Ask questions about their general health instead of directly asking them what’s wrong. 
  • Prepare for possible resistance, and don’t take their outbursts personally. 

If your senior loved one’s mental illness is beyond your ability to provide home care, you can take this opportunity to talk to them about moving to a senior living community.  

Being in a senior living community can provide mental and emotional perks to your senior loved one. They can socialize with other seniors and regain their sense of friendship and belonging. Most retirement facilities also offer services that aim to help seniors with their mental health concerns. So, ensure you choose a reputable senior living community that provides mental health support to help your elderly loved one live a quality life. 

2. Check on them often and watch out for symptoms 

Whether your loved one is in the senior living community or their private home, it’s essential to check on them regularly. Make time to visit them as frequently as possible and have conversations about their general well-being. Ask about how their day went and look for any signs or symptoms of mood changes. If they start mentioning their depression worsening or admit being always forgetful, seek professional help immediately. 

You may notify the assisted living facility staff regarding the changes you’ve noted. Mental health professionals can conduct a proper diagnosis and provide the right care and treatment your senior loved one needs, such as memory support for the elderly if they’ve been diagnosed with forgetfulness or memory loss. 

3. Help them expand their social network 

Don’t let your senior loved one’s mental health illness hinder them from living their best life. Instead of letting them succumb to their mental illness, help your senior loved one expand their social network and be socially active again.  

For instance, visit them regularly and chat about their relatives’ and friends’ stories or share some life updates. Then ask them when’s the best time to meet their friends and families, so they can prepare accordingly. If they’re not physically able to socialize outdoors, you can make arrangements, so their friends and family will be the ones to pay a visit.  

Another way you can expand their social network is by supporting them in their hobbies. Was your senior loved one an active dancer before they were diagnosed with their mental illness? You can accompany them to a dance studio for seniors and dance with them. Not only do you get to spend quality time with them, but you’re also encouraging them to socialize with others.  

4. Exercise and do physical activities together 

Research proves that a sedentary lifestyle can worsen your senior loved one’s mental illness. So, help them continue to live an active lifestyle by exercising or doing other physical activities together. For instance, if you’re taking your dog for a walk, take your senior loved one with you. Or if you’re tending your garden, let them help you with the easy tasks. Whatever exercise or physical activity you do together, staying active can significantly help their mental and physical health.  

5. Allow them to have control of their life 

As much as you want to ensure your senior loved one is safe and healthy, controlling their life too much can adversely affect their mental health. According to a study, senior adults feel younger and happier when they have more control over their lives. In contrast, if they lose their sense of control in their life, they may start feeling worthless and helpless, which only worsens their mental health condition. 

Hence, you need to keep your senior loved one involved, especially when making decisions regarding their health or life. They’ll be more comfortable and open to taking other treatment options when you let them decide for their own well-being. 

Key takeaway 

Dealing with a mentally ill senior loved one won’t be easy, as each condition is unique for each one. Aside from following these tips, don’t forget to look out for yourself and your mental health. Remember, the best way to care for your senior loved one is when you’re also healthy. 

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