Many elderly people suffer from a combinations of physical and mental symptoms that can be effectively treated. All too often, however, such problems are never recognized. Many older men and women are too embarrassed to admit that they are having difficulty or to seek help.

Treatment for the elderly

The elderly person and their relatives, mistakenly believe that depression, confusion, anxiety or memory problems are the inevitable consequences of old age. This is NOT the case, and with treatment the elderly are likely to improve or recover from these conditions.

Only recently have mental health professionals started devoting time, energy and resources to the psychiatric needs of the elderly.

If problems are recognized, a great deal can be done to maximize physical and psychological potential so that older men and women can function at the highest possible level for the longest possible time.

MHCC guidelines

Mental illness does not discriminate; no one across the age span is immune to its effects. It should be noted, however, that there are some unique factors that may contribute to variations of prevalence numbers for those later in life. There are distinct populations living with mental illnesses in later life:

  1. those growing older with a recurrent, persistent or chronic mental illness
  2. those experiencing late onset mental illnesses
  3. those living with behavioural and psychological symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias
  4. those living with chronic medical problems with known correlations with mental illness (for example, Parkinson disease, cerebral vascular disease, chronic obstructive lung disease)

The most common mental illnesses after age 65 are mood and anxiety disorders, cognitive and mental disorders due to a medical condition (including dementia and delirium), substance misuse (including prescription drugs and alcohol) and psychotic disorders. Family physician data suggest that an increasing number of seniors consult for mental health problems over the course of one year and, proportionally, there is a higher percentage of elderly who consult compared to the younger adult population or children. Although considered common in older adults, none of the following illnesses should be viewed as typical or inevitable consequences of growing older. (Mental Health Commission of Canada)

Seniors Guidelines