Symptoms of Mental Illness in the Elderly

Symptoms of Mental Illness in the Elderly

Discover Symptoms of Mental Illness in the Elderly

More often than not, seniors have a tendency of mistaking symptoms of a mental illness for normal changes that occur as a result of aging. 1/3 adults aged 55+ do not receive the appropriate treatment for their mental illnesses because of neglect. Being knowledgeable and vigilant about the mental and emotional health of elder loved ones is the first step to ensuring that they get the treatment they require.

Causes and Risk Factors for Senior Mental Illness

As individuals age, they are faced with a plethora of medical issues, some physical others mental. However, upon visiting medical care professionals when seeking relief from their debilitating symptoms, elders are more likely to report physical complaints as opposed to psychiatric complaints. Sometimes, the issues they face can be as simple as depression or anxiety, whereas other times it can be more difficult to pinpoint the issue at hand.

Potential triggers for mental illness in the elderly:

  1. Pervasive illnesses (e.g. cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc)
  2. Illnesses that cause dementia (e.g. Alzheimer’s)
  3. Physical disability
  4. Change in environment (e.g. moving to a senior care facility)
  5. Losing a loved one
  6. Interaction of medications
  7. Alcohol/substance abuse
  8. Malnutrition

Is it Aging or Mental Illness?

Changes occur as part of natural aging process. These changes generally include forgetfulness, mood swings, and some health concerns. However, when these problems exceed a certain limit, it is a signal that professional health is required. If you are a caregiver, you should look out for potential warning signs which could possibly indicate the presence of a mental illness. These warning signs include:

  1. Trouble working with or understanding numbers
  2. Two weeks or more of sad/depressed mood
  3. Changes in sleep patterns
  4. Unexplained fatigue
  5. Disorientation
  6. Problems in concentration and decision-making
  7. Change in appetite or weight
  8. Short-term memory problems
  9. Feelings of worthlessness
  10. Suicidal ideation
  11. Feelings of helplessness
  12. Physical problems without medical justification or proof (aches and pains)
  13. Changes in dress or appearance
  14. Problems carrying out daily activities


If you feel your elder loved one is facing any of these symptoms, you should seek professional care right away. Mental health professionals are available to help you and your elder love one through these changes, providing you with the support you need.

The nurses at Partners in Healthcare are available to talk with you about your in-home senior care needs including how to stay healthy at home with RN managed affordable care. We are a private duty home care agency that provides elder home care serves in the Orlando area, call us at 407-788-9393.


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