Isolation and health problems put older adults at risk, but few receive the help they need.

Aging is not easy, especially in our youth-obsessed society. For millennia cultures have made room for older adults in family and community; yet American adults face isolation from social networks and often end up in care facilities that meet physical but not emotional needs (although this is shifting as the baby boomer generation ages and demands more active, community-oriented living arrangements). Frustrations over physical decline, isolation, medical problems and the deaths of old friends and family puts older adults at risk for depression.

Depression in older adults is tragically undertreated, partly as a result of our mental health care system, and partly from cultural stigma. Older adults come from a generation where mental health issues were even less discussed than they are today. These individuals are less likely to recognize depression, discuss their emotions, and/or seek help. Many older adults manifest depression in symptoms other than sadness–including sleeping problems, fatigue, physical discomfort–that mirror other signs of aging or medical issues. Consequently, doctors have difficulty diagnosing depression in older patients. The sobering result: white men age 85 and older have the highest suicide rate in the United States.

Making older adults feel vital, appreciated and involved at all stages of aging is a positive preventative measure for depression. Read this NIMH handout about the treatment options and interventions available for the older adults in your life.

-Courtesy ProviderConnect