October 1, 2022
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National Seniors Day is celebrated on the 1st of October each year throughout Canada. If you have an elderly person in your life, the day provides you with the perfect occasion to appreciate and celebrate them, with people throughout the country taking this opportunity to let senior citizens know how much they love them.
Since the first National Seniors Day in 2011, Canadians have used this day to acknowledge the life-long contributions senior citizens have and continue to make to families and communities, celebrating the many senior citizens that continue to have a substantial impact on the Canadian workforce. The day also provides an excellent opportunity to raise awareness and contribute to conversations about healthy ageing.
Seniors Mental Health
15% of Canadian seniors suffer from loneliness, depression or other mental disorders. But help is available.
Seniors go through many life changes that can lead to mental health issues like depression, loneliness and anxiety. Mental disorders can make people feel helpless. They can be brought on by many things, like:
- Loss of friends and loved ones
- Physical health problems
- Worrying about money
The good news is that mental illness is as treatable as physical illness. The only difference between the two is that mental illness affects your mood, behaviour and thinking instead of your physical body.
Mental illness is not a sign of weakness, a character flaw or a failing of any kind. There are approximately 1 million Canadian seniors who are struggling with mental illness, so you are not alone. There is a lot of help available. You do not need to suffer in silence.
The purpose of this article is to inform you about the most common kinds of mental illnesses older adults face, how to recognize the warning signs and how to get help.
What are the most common mental health concerns in seniors?
The top 3 mental health issues include:
- Depression is the most common mental disorder. It affects 7% of all seniors. Left untreated, it can harm emotional wellbeing and social functioning and make physical illnesses worse.
- Dementia is the loss of memory, thinking and behaviour. Approximately 5% of older adults suffer from this illness and in its worst form becomes Alzheimer’s disease.
- Anxiety and panic disorders cause worry and fear. They affect about 4% of older adults and are closely associated with depression – nearly half of the people who have anxiety disorders also have depression.
Fortunately, these mental illnesses can be managed very effectively with therapy and medication. If you’re ever in need, Lifeline provides peace of mind and a simple, fast connection with people who can help.
What are the warning signs that older adults might be suffering from a mental disorder?
As we grow older, we often see changes in our mood or thinking. But, if you have persistent or severe depression, loneliness, anxiety or memory loss, it could be a sign of something more serious.
Here are some of the warning signs that you should share with your family doctor:
- Avoiding friends and family
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty sleeping or too much sleep
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Activity that is hard to control
- Finding it hard to concentrate
- Becoming more forgetful
- Increased anger or aggressiveness
- Feeling on edge and restless
- Antisocial behaviours or thoughts
- Difficulty looking after your personal appearance, home or other daily tasks
What kinds of help are available for senior mental health?
Your first and best source of help is your doctor, who can diagnose your illness and help you get the help you need. In the meantime, nutritious meals and being active will help you to feel better.
Resources for seniors mental health
The Ontario government also offers several resources to support seniors on their website. This includes information on:
- Mental health counselling and treatment for older adults
- Active living, health and wellness supports
- A Friendly Voice, a free, confidential phone line for Ontarians 55+ who just want to chat with a friendly person. Call toll-free 1-855-892-9992 between 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Show your appreciation to the country’s older adults this #NationalSeniorsDay.