Addressing mental health in later life
Posted on: 13 March 2019 by Morgan Franklin
Research has shown that more than half of adults in the UK aged 55 and over have experienced mental health problems. The most common issues that were reported included depression and anxiety.
Research has shown that more than half of adults in the UK aged 55 and over have experienced mental health problems. The most common issues that were reported included depression and anxiety. In recent years, it has become more acceptable to talk openly about mental illness, often with a focus on young adults. However, this has not been the same for adults aged over 55. The following article will first look at why is it difficult to address mental health in later life, focusing on reasons over 55’s are reluctant to seek help. It will also look at common causes as well as how we can improve our mental health in later life.
What are the common causes for mental illness in later life?
When facing retirement a lot of people struggle with the sudden excess of time they have on their hands. Boredom can be a contributing factor to mental illness as well as isolation, both of which can be experienced when leaving a workplace. As a result, interaction and activity is important. If you have family nearby, they may keep you busy with grandchildren, DIY or simply company. However, life is very busy and your family might not always have the time. This is where it’s important to enjoy your own interests. It’s also a good chance to try new experiences and activities.
For example, a planned day-out can be a great way of meeting new people, exploring and keeping yourself busy. The healthiest cities in the UK were listed in Protectivity’s recent study. It was calculated using the number of museums, parks, leisure centres, health food shops etc. A visit to one of these cities is sure to be packed with enough activity that you’ll have to go back at least once to experience it all.
Why aren’t over 55’s talking about mental health?
Last year, YouGov researched mental health with over 55’s at AgeUK’s behest. They discovered that 25% of participants said it was more difficult for older people to discuss mental health than younger people. The reasons for this were that previous generations were brought up to keep a ‘stiff upper lip’ with such things.
Mental illness was also not considered to be a real health problem and was not differentiated in terms of specific conditions. For example, someone who was depressed would have been considered as ‘mad’ as someone who had been sectioned for paranoid schizophrenia. As a result, over 55’s learned to keep much issues to themselves which has then carried on into later life. This is a huge problem considering that dialogue is the first step to addressing mental health at any age.
It is important to bare in mind that our understanding, as a society, has moved on somewhat. There is no shame in opening up to a doctor about your struggles. After all, that’s what they’re there for!
In conclusion, there are a number of other causes for mental illness in later life. The loss of loved ones or a sense of purpose, for example. The most important thing to remember is that seeking help is not a sign of weakness. If you feel like you might be struggling then go and speak to someone, a family member, friend or doctor. It won’t hurt to speak to someone but it just might help, which is worth a punt isn’t it?
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