May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Mental health is essential to our overall health and well-being. Yet despite a variety of medical, social, and environmental factors that put older adults at heightened risk for depression, substance use disorders, and Alzheimer’s, older adults are routinely under-diagnosed. With all the screening tools that are available, why is that?
Health care providers face a wide range of difficulties in detecting mental health changes and dementias in older adults. Symptoms can be hard to distinguish from other causes and certain behavioral changes may even look different from person-to-person. Additionally, the stigma that still surrounds mental health and dementias may prevent older adults from talking to their health care provider, and not all health care providers will start the conversation.
New tip sheets from the Alliance provide important information for health care providers that can aid in screening, treatment, and starting the important conversations for: Alzheimer’s Disease & Related Dementias in Older Adults; Depression & Suicide in Older Adults; and Substance Use Disorders & Mental Health in Older Adults.
Chronic diseases and health problems, Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, financial stress, disability, surgeries and hospitalizations, substance use disorders, certain medications, loss of independence, social isolation and loneliness, grief over the death of a loved one, and other major life changes or stressful events all make older adults particularly vulnerable to depression and substance use disorders. And older adults dealing with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis usually experience behavioral and communication challenges that make important conversations more difficult yet even more essential. Proper screening, diagnosis, and tools for communication are critical and provided in these tip sheets.
Download the Alliance for Aging Research’s mental health tip sheets and learn more about screening, diagnosis, and potentially life-saving and life-changing conversations: