Mental Illness/ Psychological Disorders

Mental Health
Currently, the number of people aged 60 and over is more than 800 million. Projections indicate that this figure will increase to over two billion in 2050. Older people face special health challenges. Many of them lose ability to live independently because of limited mobility, or the other physical, mental and psychological health problems that require some form of long-term care. So, it is important to help and take care of the older people, especially when psychological disorders are remarked; as the older people are often reluctant to ask for help.

Underlying factors of psychological health problems in older adults:
A multitude of social, demographic, psychological, and biological factors contribute to a person’s psychological health status. Almost all these factors are particularly pertinent amongst older adults. Factors such as poverty, social isolation, loss of independence, and loneliness can affect psychological health and general health of the older people.

Social support and family interactions can boost the dignity of the older adults, and are likely to have a protective role in the psychological health outcomes of this population. There are older women worldwide than older men. This difference increases with advancing age and has been called “feminization of ageing”. Older men and women have different health and morbidity patterns and women generally have lower income but better family support networks. On the other hand, both depression and dementia diseases are more prevalent among women than men.

Physical health problems in older adults:

Depression is a psychological disorder and it is different from usual mood fluctuations and short-lived emotional responses to challenges in everyday life. The usual feeling of sadness is normal, but in case of depression, the patient feels sad despite of the external factors surrounding him. According to psychiatrists, depression affects badly the way of thinking and behavior. It can also affect males, females, older and younger persons, all alike. Depression afflicts people from all social segments and all educational levels. No one is immune against depression.
Most depressed people suffer from a wide range of symptoms; however, the symptoms of depression amongst the older people differ slightly from those of the young people. They include:
    • Feeling psychological disorders and sadness.
    • Losing interest in usual activities.
    • Getting no pleasure out of life or what you usually enjoy.
    • Losing or gaining weight.
    • Having difficulty sleeping, or sleeping more.
    • Feeling angry and nervous, or lazy.
    • Crying or feeling very intense emotions.
    • Feeling tired and lacking energy.
    • Finding it hard to concentrate or make decisions.
    • Thinking about death and suicide permanently.
    • Feeling physical pains.

Improper diagnosis of depression for the older people as well as the lack of interest in their health care will make their health status worse.
Causes of Depression:
There are a variety of causes triggering depression, including:
• Physical Factors:
Evidence indicates that the physical factor (brain biochemistry) is significant in depressive disorders. For example, individuals with major depressive illness typically have too little or too much of certain brain chemicals, called neurotransmitters (such as noradrenalin).
• Genetic Factors:
Your risk for developing depression increases when there is a family history of the illness. The risk is somewhat higher for those with bipolar disorder. Not everybody with a family history develops the illness. Also, major depression can occur in people who have had no family members with the illness. This suggests that additional factors are involved in the onset of depression. Also, when one twin suffers from depression, the other twin is very likely (by 70%) to suffer also.
• Environmental and Other Stressors:
Significant loss, a difficult relationship, financial problems, or a major change in life pattern have all been cited as contributors to depressive illness. Sometimes the onset of depression is associated with acute or chronic physical illness. In addition, some form of substance abuse disorder occurs in about one third of people with any type of depressive disorder. Also, violence and physical abuse could be triggers of depression. However, all such factors could exist without entailing depression, since they are all relative factors.
What to Do on the Onset of Depression?
If the patient suffers from the depression symptoms, it is necessary to get help. The earlier the patient has treatment, the faster he gets recovered. So, it is advisable to visit the physician and tell him the complaint. The patient can ask him if he is actually depressed or not. The physician may order tests when needed, and also he may discuss the appropriate treatment options with the patient.
The support of the family and friends can be comfortable. The patient should try to find someone to talk with him about what is going on. If the patient feels that it is difficult to talk about his feelings, he can spend time with the family, and certainly he will overcome his frustration.

It is a syndrome involving deterioration in memory, thinking, behavior and the ability to perform everyday activities. It generally affects older people, although it is not a normal part of ageing. It is found that 35.6 million people are living with dementia. The total number of people with dementia is projected to almost double every 20 years. That is, to 65.7 million by 2030 and up to 115.4 million by 2050.

Health awareness tips for the older people and their families to overcome the psychological health disorders:

  • Visit the family physician on a regular basis in order to detect any health or psychological disorders experienced by the older people.
  • Encourage the older people to participate in the family and community events, and to volunteer in the social programs launched in the district or mosque, and others.
  • Motivate the older people to keep their healthy weight, so as not to suffer from obesity and other diseases.
  • Encourage the older people to read and see; as this practice helps them stimulate their brain cells and reduces the onset of depression and dementia.
  • Ensure that the older people take the medicines prescribed by the physician at the time in the presence of a family member, if possible.
  • Stop smoking immediately.
  • Eat a healthy meal that contains all the necessary nutrients for the body, as well as vitamins and minerals.
  • Pay attention to the mouth and teeth health of the older people and visit the dentist regularly.
  • Keep the older people away from the pressures of life.
  • Encourage the older people to practice exercises regularly on a daily basis under medical supervision.

Benefits beyond the regular physical activities:
  1. Strengthen bones and muscles of the older people.
  2. Help trigger balance.
  3. Reduce, Allah wiling, exposure to diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and some types of cancer.
  4. Make the person happy and comfort, and reduce the problem of depression.
  5. Increase the level of energy.
  6. Stimulate and strengthen memory and improve the mental capacity of the older people.
Kinds of sports practiced by the older people:
The best sports to be practiced by the older people are walking and swimming.

Last Update : 15 March 2018 10:52 AM
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