Mental Health Awareness Month has been observed in May. Conceived by the Mental Health America organization, the month-long recognition began 65 years ago. Each May, millions of people around the country learn about mental health and its importance. This education is vital for seniors and their caregivers, as an astounding one in five older adults suffer from mental illness.
Each year, the Mental Health Awareness month takes on a theme. For example, in 2010, the theme was “Live Your Life Well’. The theme’s mission was to encourage Americans to take a pro-active role in preventing mental health problems, especially during times of stress and strained emotions.
In 2014, the theme is “Mind Your Health.” One of the main objectives of this year’s theme is to encourage a movement that educates and informs the public about the importance of mental health. The theme also seeks to focus on the mind-body connection.
Mental Health Concerns for Seniors
Senior citizens are at risk for a number of mental health problems. For example, dementia, depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and psychosis may develop as a senior ages. Those who already suffer from significant mental illness commonly display abnormal behavioral patterns. Ultimately, these patterns create a decreased capacity to function or think clearly.
Seniors experience a wide range of symptoms associated with mental illness. Some of the most common include the lack of quality sleep, changes in appetite and changes in overall mood. For example, sleep problems are among some of the most commonly reported effects of mental illness. Many seniors find it almost impossible to fall asleep, while others are unable to sleep through the night.
Boosting Mental Health
- One of the best ways to improve your mental health is to improve physical health. Seniors should:
- Eat nutritious and balanced meals
- Avoid the use of drugs and alcohol
- Drink an adequate amount of water each day
- Perform age-appropriate exercises
- Get an adequate amount of sleep
Senior caregivers should be aware of the signs and symptoms associated with mental illness. If you suspect a senior loved one’s mental health is in decline, consult the family physician and set up an appointment.
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