Mental Health Among the Elderly
“Most people know that it is important to keep their physical body healthy, but few remember to do the same for their mind and emotions.”
– Agency for Integrated Care
The importance of mental health in elderly care?
Our mental health affects how we think and feel on a day-to-day basis. Holistic care for our elderly loved ones should include both their physical and mental well being.
Aside from the benefits of having good mental health, below are some reasons why awareness of mental health in elderly care is important.
1. Elderly mental health issues can be invisible in society
Although awareness about elderly mental health is increasing, mental health issues among the elderly are still misunderstood. This is due in part to stigma and a lack of knowledge about such issues.
Not all seniors feel comfortable speaking about the issues they face. When these seniors do confide in their families or friends about their challenges, they might not be fully understood.
People may also mistake symptoms of depression and anxiety in seniors as mere forgetfulness or carelessness that come with age.
2. Elderly suicide prevention
Among the elderly, factors that increase the risk of suicide are physical disability, life stressors and mental illnesses like depression.
The Samaritans of Singapore reported a 26% increase in elderly suicide from 2019 to 2020, but a decrease in the number of calls – signifying that seniors experience distress but do not always seek help. This was no doubt exacerbated by COVID-19.
By recognising the importance of mental health in elderly care, caregivers can detect risks of suicide early. This helps prevent elderly suicides.
3. Singapore’s ageing population
By 2030, about 23.8% of citizens will be 65 years old and above.
With Singapore’s rapidly ageing population, elderly mental health issues and the related problems are expected to increase. At least 1 in 4 older adults experiences some mental disorder like depression, anxiety or dementia.
To ensure our elderly population ages with peace of mind, we need to understand and include mental health in elderly care, .
Promoting mental health among the elderly through caregiving
Seniors benefit mentally from supportive social connections and personal relationships. However, this age group tends to suffer from disrupted personal ties and loneliness.
Some places to find community support for the elderly are:
- Day care centres where activities are organised for the elderly.
- Public spaces like parks and community gardens.
Where possible, we should encourage independence among elderly and support them with the right assistive equipment. This will greatly benefit their mental health.
Through active participation in their communities, the elderly receive the social and emotional support that add to their quality of life.
At Medical Assistance4u
Our team of medically trained staff at Medical Assistance4u can provide you with consultation services to assist you in providing good elderly care for your loved ones.