Mental Health in Later Life

Mental health in later life presents an increasing challenge of modern society. The rapid growth in the elderly population, increased life expectancy, and prevalence of chronic diseases among the elderly, extend the need for using health, social and financial community resources.

Elly Kleinman, founder of the Americare Companies states that mental health is very important for overall health. It is closely related to physical health, and mental disorders often lead to a worse outcome in the treatment of bodily diseases. Being mentally healthy is important, not just so you can get through the day but so you can maintain healthy relationships with others, and appreciate life to the full. So if you feel like your mental health is not as good as it could be, Elly Kleinman suggests to look for support before you reach a crisis point.

Good (positive) mental health is a state in which a person who exercises his / her abilities, can overcome the stress of everyday life and work productively. Its features are optimism, vigor, vitality, good social functioning, good cognitive functioning, high self-esteem and satisfaction with life. Mental health is a central part of our overall wellbeing. If a person doesn’t have good mental health, it’s possible he or she also don’t have good self-esteem or doesn’t feel confident and able to face life and its challenges.

Disturbed (negative) mental health refers to conditions that characterize changes in thinking, mood, and behavior, which are associated with anxiety or impaired functionality and represent, in addition to personal, family and social problems. The most common mental disorders are depression, anxiety, pessimism, and discontent with life.

In older age, there is a whole range of social, medical and economic circumstances that can negatively affect mental health. Getting older brings its share of challenges, and at times you may find it difficult to stay mentally healthy and strong. As we age, we face many changes and many sources of stress. We are not as strong as we used to be, illness is more of a problem, children move away from home, people we love die, we may become lonely, and eventually, we must give up our jobs and retire. That is why elderly people are at greater risk of developing depression.

Depression is more common in people with other diseases or limited functional abilities. According to Elly Kleinman, around 80% of the elderly population have at least one chronic illness, and 50% have two or more. As we age, we face numerous physical changes that impair our health and lead to physical limitations. People with reduced adaptability can easily fall into depression.

Coping with all the changes of aging can be difficult, but it can be done in a healthy way, concludes Elly Kleinman. The important thing to do is expect and plan for change, surround yourself with people you love and draw strength from the relationships that matter to you.