6 MENTAL ILLNESSES AFFECTING THE ELDERLY

Mental illness affecting the elderly population

Mental illness is any brain related disease or disorder that affects a persons moods, thinking, reasoning, ability to relate with others and behavior. It is often a mental medical conditions that reduces ones ability to  cope with daily life demands. In this article we feature some of the mental disorders that affect the mental capability of senior citizens.

Depression

Research shows that one in four people will suffer depression at some point in their life. The elderly my suffer more from depression because their children have grown up and they may end up feeling alone and abandoned. Such thoughts may lead to  them being depressed.

Lack of something to do with their time may also make older people feeling useless leading to depression, stress and anxiety especially for older people who had active and productive lives and young adults and have now retired, have nothing to do and their children have grown up and left the home.

Depression is more common in adults who went through abuse at any points in their lives(physical, verbal or sexual abuse). These images of abuse may come back to the individual causing then to feel useless, unworthy and unloved.

Dementia

It is a term used to describe brain disorders that affect memory, thinking and reasoning of an individual enough to interfere with their day to day life. The symptoms of dementia include significant impairement of any of the following;

  • Communication and language
  • Memory
  • Vision
  • Ability to pay attention
  • Reasoning

Dementia patients often have progressive symptoms that start off normal and gradually get worse.

Alzheimer’s disease

It is the most common form of dementia. It has no cure and worsens as it progresses leading to eventual death. Its symptoms which include short-term memory loss may be confused with age-related concerns or depression. As it progresses, symptoms include confusion, mood swings, trouble with language, violence and long-term memory loss. With time bodily functions are lost leading to death. However it should be noted that the eventual cause of death is an external factor such as pneumonia and not the disease itself.

Stroke

It happens when blood flow to the brain stops and within seconds the brain cells start to die. There is ischemic stroke caused by a blood clot that clogs the blood vessels in the brain and there is  hemorrhagic stroke caused when a blood vessel ruptures and bleeds into the brain. Stroke is a medical emergency accelerated by either age or high blood pressure. It may cause serious brain damage or death.

After stroke a patient may experience memory loss, limb numbness, trouble walking and speech problems.

Psychosis

This is a mental disorder in which the elderly affected loses touch with reality. Symptoms include:

  • Hallucinations: affects any of the senses the most common being hearing voices
  • Delusions: false beliefs that are mostly paranoid in nature.
  • Catatonia: inability to interact at all with the world while awake and when a part of the body is moved it stays there even if it is a bizarre position.
  • Though disorders that affect speech and writing.

Parkinson’s disease

It is a generative disorder of the brain cells at the central nervous system. The cause of this disorder is unknown and it has no cure. In its early stage, symptoms include slow movement, shaking and difficulty walking (movement-related problems). In the late stages symptoms include dementia and depression, sleep and emotional problems. Sensory difficulties are also its symptom.

Schizophrenia

It is a rare mental disease that makes it almost impossible to distinguish between what is real and what is unreal, relate with others and manage emotions. A person with schizophrenia will have hallucinations, delusions, disorganized behavior and speech, have emotion expression problems.

Though it has no cure, there are medications to reduce these symptoms.