Is Your Elderly Loved One Suffering From Mental Illness?

According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), one out of four older adults is suffering from mental illness of some kind. This number is expected to rise to 15 million by the year 2030. Even more concerning is the fact that many aging adults will not seek the treatment that they need, which often results in committing suicide. In fact, the suicide rate among seniors who are 85 years and older is higher than any other age group.

Most Common Mental Illnesses Suffered by the Elderly 

Mental illness is a type of condition in which there are changes to one's thinking, behavior, and emotions. Currently, there are over 200 types of mental illness. Two of the most common types of mental illnesses suffered by seniors include depression and anxiety.


Categorized as a mood disorder, depression is also referred to as major depressive disorder or clinical depression. Seniors who are clinically depressed may feel intense periods of sadness, hopeless about their condition, and worthless as a human being.

Besides feeling this way, some of the most common symptoms of depression include:

  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Changes in appetite and/or weight
  • Losing interest in hobbies or activities

Some other common types of depression your loved one may be struggling with include bipolar disorder, seasonal affective disorder, and atypical depression.


General anxiety disorder is a type of mental health condition that is often characterized by feeling nervous, scared, or uneasy. Having these types of feelings are usually perfectly normal, but when they start to interfere with daily life, it may be a sign of an anxiety disorder.

Other common symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Experiencing heart palpitations
  • Not wanting to socialize or try new things
  • Feeling restless, wound up, or on edge

Besides generalized anxiety disorder, there are many other types of anxiety disorders. The ones that most commonly affect seniors include panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and also different types of phobias that may include a fear of driving, socializing, or a general fear of the outside world.

Get Help for Your Elderly Loved One

If you are concerned about your elderly loved one having any of the above mental health disorders, they should be evaluated by a medical professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment. If their condition requires health care services on a regular basis, or they are no longer able to live on their own, your loved one may benefit from receiving home health care services.