On Jan. 1, 2011, the oldest members of the baby boomer generation are set to reach their retirement in the next decade. It is estimated that until 2030, each day, 10,000 baby boomers will retire officially. A quarter of the population of the U.S. is represented by this population. For these adults navigating into retirement or slower lifestyles could lead to mental health challenges as they are left wondering what to do with the remaining days of their lives. Apparently, the people from this generation also struggle with the same mental health challenges and need the same treatments and services as required by others. However, according to a study published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, this segment of the population is also the most likely to stigmatize the use of mental health services.
Upon aging, people may experience a decline in their health because of which their needs may increase. In addition, they may also struggle with the loss of a spouse or friends to aging, setting the stage for the development of mental health disorders. However, it has been noticed that older adults do not get the required treatment in the mixed-age groups. They are least benefitted by the general outpatient partial programs and may rather experience a worsening of their mental health symptoms. In fact, the presence of a geriatric mental health program comprising a geriatric therapist and group therapy sessions can help older people lead a much healthier, happier, and independent life for longer.
Suitable mental health programs for elderly
Keeping the needs of the geriatric population in mind, a mental health program for the elderly should be such that it empowers them to lead a fuller life while coping with the trauma, effectively managing their symptoms of anxiety and depression, and even staying mentally agile for longer.
Some of these programs are:
- Problem-solving therapy: Problem-solving therapy is a type of psychotherapy that has been used extensively in psychiatry, for treating multiple conditions such as, conduct disorders, depressive disorders, substance abuse, and obesity. For the reason that older adults might experience multiple stressors in their day-to-day lives because of losses, medical ailments, cognitive impairment, and disability, a proactive methodology using discrete and effortlessly taught steps to resolve problems appears to be interesting and concrete. This therapy works on two principles, reducing stress and improving life by finding the best possible solution to everyday problems at hand and teaching problem solving skills to people so that they can deal with the future challenges.
- Reminiscence therapy: In this, the therapist helps the elderly focus on reminiscing about something that was pleasing. For example, when a picture of turkey is brought in front of an older adult and they are asked about what it reminds them of, they may start talking about Thanksgiving, discuss associated smells, memories, and might get transported to their happier times. This fires up positive emotions in them and changes their mood immediately. This therapy is also useful for patients with dementia as their long-term memory is strong. Moreover, it is useful for depressed patients as when they start talking about their happier times, they start connecting with others in the group, thus forming healthy social connections.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: Emerging research has established the efficacy of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in residential and community settings. CBT focuses on recognizing and refining impaired behavioral and thinking patterns so as to help the elderly achieve goals. CBT comprises an extensive range of behavioral and cognitive approaches, is goal oriented, and structured. For example, CBT could be used to help an older adult break their lethargic routine. They could choose an activity they like so that it is easier for them to break the cycle. This could mean going to the church every Sunday, meeting grandkids, or joining some activity classes, etc. This simple change in routine can help them tremendously to come out of the vicious cycle of depression and loneliness.
Road to recovery
Body ache, fatigue, memory loss, hopelessness, and in the worst cases, suicidal thoughts – these are only some of the symptoms experienced by the elderly population aged 65 years or older. These symptoms, which can often be signs of deteriorating mental health tend to be considered a normal part of aging. If left untreated, these symptoms can greatly affect a person’s quality of life.
It is therefore necessary to add value to the lives of seniors by ensuring that they are in good health – physically, emotionally, and mentally – and that they live with dignity. This will make them feel loved, respected, and appreciated. This can be achieved by instituting mental health intervention for them at the first sign of distress.
If you or a loved one is battling a mental illness and is looking for reliable inpatient program for depression, feel free to contact Florida Mental Health Helpline. Call our 24/7 mental health treatment helpline 866-846-5588 to learn more about research-backed mental health programs available at credible mental health centers. You can also chat online with an admission counselor to learn more about how a treatment program can be personalized for each and every patient to ensure lasting recovery.