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Mental Health Issues in Later Life

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1 Mental Health Issues in Later Life

2 What is “Normal Aging”? Two groups:
Those with disease Those with “normal” health Society has a widespread belief, however, that physical and mental declines are inevitable as we age.

3 Successful Aging Low risk of disease and disease-related disability
High mental and physical functioning Active engagement with life The combination of these three factors constitute the essence of successful aging (Rowe and Khan)

4 A Long and Healthy Life Common-sense practices Don't smoke
Don't drink too much Eat a healthy diet Get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each day Get regular checkups and screenings Wear seat belts and take other safety precautions

5 Other Factors for Successful Aging
Attitudes and actions can transform our lives Lifelong learning Active involvement A hopeful outlook

6 Caring for Yourself Maintain a positive outlook on life
Take good care of your health Remain active Stay in close contact with family and friends Eat right Remain mentally active Know what you believe


8 Mental Health Issues in Later Life
Maintaining Emotional Health

9 Terms to Describe a Healthy Emotional State
Mental Health Emotional Health Mental Wellness Emotions Wellness Standard definitions of these terms are difficult to find

10 Elements of Mental Wellness Definitions
Statistical normality Observations of one older adult's ability to function compared to others The degree to which mental disorders respond to treatment An idealized image of continued contribution, growth and functioning, sometimes labeled successful aging

11 Definitions of Mental Wellness
A measure of personal life satisfaction and quality of life that affects the older individual and the community ( “Striking a balance in all aspects of your life – social, physical, spiritual, economic, mental” (

12 Definitions of Mental Wellness (continued)
Successful performance of mental function, resulting in productive activities, fulfilling relationships with other people, and the ability to adapt to change and to cope with adversity… mental health is the springboard of thinking and communication skills, learning, emotional growth, resilience, and self esteem (

13 A Healthy Mind is Important
Good mental health can help you Enjoy life more Handle difficult situations Stay better connected to your loved ones Keep your body strong Save money on healthcare expenses Live longer (DHHS publication No. [SMA] , 2001)

14 Maintaining Emotional Health
Most older adults enjoy good mental health Emotional, mental, and physical health are all connected A healthy mind is as important as a healthy body, and should be given the same attention!

15 Sleep Sleep is an important part of our ability to remember
Neuronal connections may be remodeled during sleep Some memory tasks appear to be more vulnerable to sleep deprivation than others Sleep deprivation may produce effects in the brain that resemble those associated with aging    Evidence that sleep plays an important role in memory consolidation (

16 Stress Managing stress can affect one’s outlook on life
Not all stress is negative Chronic stress takes a toll on the brain In older persons, stress is thought to play a bigger role in triggering depression than in other groups

17 Managing Stress Eat regular healthy meals Avoid caffeine
Get enough sleep Engage in some kind of regular physical activity Recognize that there are some things you cannot control and focus your attention on the things that you can Develop a sense of humor; put some fun back into your life by doing something you really enjoy every day Use with handout #5


19 Mental Health Issues in Later Life
Staying Connected

20 Social Connection Maintaining social connections is important to wellness in later life Social relationships serve as a key source of informal support Loneliness is a problem for many older adults

21 Retirement Take a slow exit Try a new job on a part-time basis
Share your job Take a break Volunteer


23 Mental Health Issues in Later Life
Dealing with Grief

24 Grief and Bereavement Losses are a part of everyone’s lives
As we age we accumulate more losses Loss of a spouse is common in late life About 800,000 older Americans are widowed each year Elders’ expressions of grief are often shaped by their cultural values and beliefs

25 Grief and Loss Experiences
Anxiety or panic 40 percent of people who lose a spouse experience generalized anxiety or panic syndromes in the first year Death In the first six months after a loss, mortality among surviving spouses increases 40 to 70 percent compared with the general population.

26 Complicated Grief Roughly 15 percent of people who have lost a loved one might be susceptible to “complicated grief” a condition more severe than the average loss-related life transition, depression, and anxiety Risk factors for complicated grief Excessive dependency on the person who died History of depression or anxiety Sudden death of a loved one

27 Symptoms of Grief Depression Anxiety Substance abuse
Symptoms of “complicated” grief searching, yearning, preoccupation with thoughts of the deceased, crying, disbelief regarding the death, feeling stunned by the death, and lack of acceptance of the loss.

28 Stages of Grief Denial Anger Reactive Depression Guilt Acceptance

29 Coping with Grief Take care of your body Take care of your mind
Take care of your spirit


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