There’s nothing sadder than watching your parents’ health deteriorate as they grow older. How do you protect your aged family members from declining mental health? Statistics show that about 15% of adults aged 60+ suffer from mental disorders. But these psychological conditions aren’t untreatable. You can find help for your parents by noticing certain telltale signs of mental decline.
Observe your parents’ behaviors and find the symptoms we’ve mentioned here. Spotting these red flags will help you prevent this decline properly. Remember that people grow more vulnerable to mental health decline when they grow older. So, psychological challenges are expected as a person ages.
Aging adults and mental health
But what should you do once you notice the signs discussed here? Well, it’s estimated that more than 4% of older adults live in nursing homes today, and 2% of older adults find themselves in assisted-living facilities. These adult-care centers ensure that your parents are treated properly.
Experts claim that one-half of nursing home residents are aged 85+ right now. However, nursing homes are plagued with many cases of elder abuse where the staff mistreats older adults. Fortunately, approaching an ombudsman can help tackle any form of abuse your parents are facing.
But what is an ombudsman, and what do they do? An LTC or a long-term-care ombudsman is a person who advocates for the residents of nursing homes. This person will fight for your parents while protecting their rights in long-term caregiving facilities.
After hiring an ombudsperson, you can ensure that nobody mistreats your family members. You should also contact an LTC ombudsman to handle complaints regarding assisted-living facilities. Now, let’s return to the telltale signs of mental decline in adults:
1. Not socializing
Isolation and withdrawal are telltale symptoms of mental illness. When your parents suddenly cease to hang out with their friends or engage in their favorite pastimes, consider it a cause for concern. They might be battling mental health problems.
When someone gives up socializing without any real reason, it’s not healthy. Mental illness can manifest itself via isolation, where the patient will start to spend more time alone suddenly. When your parents withdraw from society, contact a doctor.
2. Weight changes
Weight gain/loss shouldn’t be neglected because these conditions may indicate a long-term decline in someone’s mental health. When your parents start getting skinnier without any plausible reason, you should be worried about their well-being.
Remember that mental health affects our appetite. An ailment may compel your parents to eat less/more than needed. For instance, depression symptoms include weight loss. So, get your elderly family member examined by doctors if you notice any weight-related issues.
3. Changes in personality
When you notice sudden changes in your parents’ behaviors, it may indicate mental health issues. A personality change shouldn’t be neglected because it’s a huge telltale sign of declining health in your parents. If you feel like they’re behaving differently than before, try to investigate the cause.
You may find it is happening because of health-related problems. Several mental disorders manifest themselves via personality changes. Even if these changes are minor, inform their doctor about them.
4. Memory loss
Age-related memory loss may indicate dementia when it goes beyond occasional forgetfulness. So, notice the warning signs of dementia among older adults, such as being confused, struggling to keep up in a conversation, and difficulty concentrating while performing everyday tasks.
Memory decline could be to blame if aged people get lost in familiar places, repeat the same question, or forget dates. In 2021, 6.2 million Americans aged 65+ had Alzheimer’s dementia.
5. Poor hygiene
If older adults stop caring about hygiene, it’s a grave sign of mental health deterioration. Just like living in a messy house indicates depression-related disorders, staying disheveled indicates declining mental well-being.
Both teenagers and the elderly can show this sign of mental illness when they don’t care about their appearance anymore. Moreover, it’s some of the most obvious symptoms of declining health. You can easily notice when older adults start to smell bad or look unkempt.
6. Difficulty moving
Are your parents suffering from fatigue? Well, physical weakness may indicate mental confusion. A person suffering from anxiety can remain exhausted. When someone struggles to get out of bed, it’s not always because of mental illness. But, sometimes, mental disorders lead to physical exhaustion.
Sitting around too much or being too tired to move at all are some probable symptoms of declining mental health.
7. Feeling hopeless
Everyone feels depressed occasionally or when something concerning happens. However, when the feeling of hopelessness persists, it may indicate declining psychological well-being. You should check if your parents suffer from extreme mood swings.
Normal mood swings – such as being gloomy each morning but cheering up at night – isn’t concerning. A sudden change in someone’s temperament is, however, troublesome. These changes must be dealt with medically for your parent’s well-being.
8. Irrational decisions
When someone stops making sense and constantly talks gibberish, you should be worried about that person’s well-being. It’s estimated that almost one-fourth of older adults develop psychosis. In this condition, they have constant and sometimes irrational fears, worries, and concerns.
When your parents begin to do/say things that seem bizarre, you should be concerned about their health. If their choices contradict their personality, they may indicate declining health.
Mental health issues plague people of all ages. Some admit their parents to assisted-living facilities or nursing homes for better caregiving. While this is a viable decision, checking up on them is crucial to ensure they aren’t abused in the care facility. As older adults age, mental health concerns are bound to take over their lives. Nonetheless, you can look for warning signs and take immediate actions to remedy the issues. So, notice if they’re becoming socially inactive, forgetful, or agitated, and tell their doctors immediately.