Mental Health in an Aging Population


North Baldwin Infirmary Senior Behavioral Health

For more information about the author, click to view their website: North Baldwin Infirmary Senior Behavioral Health

Posted on

Jul 11, 2023


Alabama - Gulf Coast

Mental Health in an Aging Population

The American Psychiatric Association defines mental illness as health conditions involving changes in emotion, thinking, and behaviors. Mental illnesses can be associated with distress and/or functioning in social, work or family activities. It is estimated that 20% of those age 55 or over will experience some sort of mental health issue. Those numbers are expected to double by 2030 due to the approximately 75 million Americans being over the age of 65. The most common disorders include dementia, cognitive impairment, anxiety, and mood disorders (depression or bipolar disorder). A little known but disturbing fact is that people aged 85 or older have the highest rates of suicide of any age group.

Older adults can often feel overlooked and unheard when it comes to receiving mental health treatment. Douglas Lane, a clinical psychologist in geriatric psychology spoke about the implicit biases medical providers may carry when dealing with older adults. “Ageism often plays in one of three ways: They may be infantilized by providers. Providers can also be dismissive, assuming that older people can’t be suicidal or have intimate relationships. Other times, issues among older people get normalized as a so-called routine part of aging.” He went on to say, “Well of course they’re frail. Of course they’re depressed. Of course they don’t remember things as well as they used to.” Aging stereotypes are pervasive in the culture but can also reside in ourselves. Older adults as well as their medical providers tend to normalize the physical and mental conditions that come along with getting older but it doesn’t have to be that way. Being sad and depressed doesn’t need to be a normal aspect of aging. Medical providers need to reinforce ‘hope’ and remind their patients that once they get help, they can overcome those negative feelings and emotions.

There are two main subgroups of the aging population who deal with the issues of ageism and health stigma. The first group includes those who have suffered with mental illness throughout their lives. The National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors conducted a study in 2006 that demonstrated that people with serious mental illnesses lived 25 years less than those without. The majority of deaths were caused by heart disease, respiratory disease, and diabetes which are largely preventable. The second group consists of elderly persons who are newly diagnosed with mental illness/es. They are at risk of being misdiagnosed with dementia when they are actually dealing with substance abuse issues and depression. Physical complaints, irritability, and cognitive impairment can present as depression in this population as opposed to more common signs such as sadness and crying. Treatment options can vary between the groups and traditional community health programs should provide multiple options ranging from therapy to supported employment.

Aside from stigma and ageism, older adults face many other issues that result in care not being sought. Insurance companies play a major role in coming between an elderly patient and the care they need. Doctor’s appointments times have been minimized to increase volume, much needed prescriptions are not covered, and pre-authorizations are denied based on not meeting narrowing criteria. Primary Care Physicians (PCP) have also become the gatekeepers to care for many managed and private plans. The PCP may 
miss signs and symptoms of a mental illness or attribute them to a physical ailment due to a lack of time to adequately explore all of the patient’s complaints.

Older adults deserve the same level of care and respect as their younger counterparts. They deserve happiness and to feel like their mental health needs are being met. It is the responsibility of the providers to work with these patients collaboratively and to choose the least invasive treatment options with minimal side effects. Society needs to address the stigmas associated with aging and mental health in order to create a culture where seeking treatment is accepted and encouraged. We should all remember that we will someday grow old and may face these challenges ourselves. Author Jacqueline Woodson put it best, “Time comes to us softly, slowly. It sits beside us for a while. Then, long before we are ready, it moves on.”

Article submitted by By: Brandon M Osborn, MHA

Contact North Baldwin Infirmary Senior Behavioral Health.  Call 251-937-5521 for more information.  Free consultations provided.

Other Articles You May Like

The Pawsitive Health Benefits of Owning a Pet for Seniors

For older adults, life can become quieter and lonely as the years go by. One way to combat this life change is by owning a pet. The health benefits of owning a pet for seniors far outweigh the work that goes into owning one.Our furry, feathery, or even scaly family members can provide a variety of physical, mental, and emotional benefits. The bond between seniors and their pets goes far beyond mere companionship. Here are some of the top health benefits of owning a pet for seniorsReduces Loneliness And IsolationAs they get older, many seniors experience feelings of social isolation and loneliness. This can lead to depression and other significant health problems. Having a pet, whether its a dog, cat, or even a bird, provides companionship and helps to reduce these feelings of isolation. Pets are loyal and loving, offering unconditional affection that can significantly improve your mental and emotional well-being.Increases Physical ActivityOne of the biggest benefits of owning a pet, particularly an active dog, is that it forces you to be physical. Dogs need to be walked, which in turn encourages regular physical activity on your part. Seniors with dogs are more likely to go for daily walks or play with them in the yard. Even this little bit of physical activity helps maintain mobility, joint flexibility, and cardiovascular health. In addition, physical activity of any kind leads to a stronger immune system and a reduced risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes.Lowers Stress And AnxietySimply looking at a picture of a little puppy or kitten is almost guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Studies show that petting a dog or cat can trigger the release of the mood-regulating hormone serotonin. It also increases the feel good hormone dopamine while decreasing the level of the stress hormone cortisol. This fluctuation helps to reduce stress and anxiety levels. Additionally, a pets rhythmic, soothing presence can help lower blood pressure, contributing to overall cardiovascular health.Boosts Mental AlertnessInteracting with pets can stimulate mental alertness and cognitive function. While training your pet and teaching them tricks helps to boost their mental capacity, it also helps to maintain your mental acuity. This mental stimulation can delay the onset of cognitive decline and reduce your risk of dementia and Alzheimers disease.Fosters A Sense Of PurposeMost of us work hard and look forward to the day we can finally hang up our work boots and retire. However, when that day finally comes, many seniors often experience a diminished sense of purpose. Owning a pet can give you back a sense of responsibility and purpose. Caring for a pet requires routine tasks like feeding, grooming, and exercise, providing structure to your days and a reason to get out of bed in the morning.Enhances Social ConnectionsA study has shown pet owners are more apt to meet their neighbors than non-pet owners. Pets make great icebreakers for seniors when they are out on walks or at pet-friendly facilities. This can give you an opportunity to connect with others and strike up a conversation.Reduces The Risk Of Allergies And AsthmaAlthough it sounds like it would be the opposite, having a pet has been found to reduce the risk of developing allergies and asthma the older we get. This can be an added health benefit for seniors who have had pets throughout their lives.Get Your Purrfect CompanionOwning a pet can do wonders for your health and well-being. These little bundles of joy enrich seniors lives in ways that extend far beyond companionship. The emotional, physical, and mental health benefits of having a pet cannot be argued or overlooked. Seniors who share their lives with a furry friend often experience reduced stress, increased physical activity, enhanced emotional well-being, and a greater sense of purpose. This article was submitted by VIPCare.  For more information visit the website:

What are Elder Law and Special Needs Planning?

What Are Elder Law and Special Needs Planning?Elder law and special needs planning involve preparing for expected and unexpected life circumstances, including the possibility of becoming incapacitated as well as protecting and providing for future needs of loved ones with disabilities.At its core, Elder Law focuses on the unique needs of older persons and practice areas that address issues of concern for aging adults, adults with disabilities/incapacity, their families and caregivers.  Unlike traditional estate planning, Elder Law begins by assisting you with issues associated with a long and healthy life, rather than simply planning for death.  It mixes legal and practical issues such as being able to continue residing in your home if you had a chronic condition, having someone help in managing your finances, and not becoming a victim of financial abuse in the process.  Elder law endeavors to help you solve the problem of not knowing what you dont know.Special Needs Law focuses on solving legal problems for individuals with special needs and their caregivers.  Although there is no uniform definition of special needs, the phrase describes individuals with a wide variety of physical or mental conditions who require assistance with personal care needs, activities of daily living, paying bills, managing finances, etc., who may be vulnerable to and need protection from exploitation or abuse, and who may need access to public benefits or any number of other types of assistance. If you currently provide care for a child or loved one with special needs (such as mental or physical disabilities), you must have contemplated what may happen to him or her when you are no longer able to serve as the caregiver.  Frequently, parents and grandparents are concerned about how their children and grandchildren will be cared for after the parents or grandparents deaths and want to plan in advance to protect their special needs loved one.  Elder Law and Special Needs Planning encompass many different fields of law, including, for example:         Disability planning, durable powers of attorney, living trusts, advance directives, other tools to      delegate management and decision-making to another in case of incompetency or incapacity         Estate planning, including the management of finances and assets during life and disposition on     death using trusts, wills, and other instruments         Special/Supplemental Needs Trusts         Conservatorships and guardianships         Long-term care planning and placements          Trust and probate/estate administration         Elder abuse and financial exploitation         Medicaid planning         Retirement and Social Security planningWhen each day seems to present a new challenge, thinking about the future can be overwhelming.  A plan can help break things down into achievable pieces. No matter what age or stage, it is getting started that counts.This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice.This article was submitted by Ashley Day, Esq., A Day Law, LLC.  Reach her at 251-277-3377.  

Basics of Reverse Home Mortgage

Basics of Reverse Home MortgageA reverse home mortgage is a type of loan that allows homeowners to access a portion of their home equity without having to sell their home or make monthly mortgage payments. Unlike a traditional mortgage, the loan balance of a reverse mortgage increases over time and is typically only repaid when the homeowner sells the home or passes away.Differences from Traditional Mortgage Reverse mortgages do not require monthly mortgage payments, while traditional mortgages do. The loan balance of a reverse mortgage increases over time, while the loan balance of a traditional mortgage decreases over time as payments are made. Reverse mortgages are typically only repaid when the homeowner sells the home or passes away, while traditional mortgages are repaid over a set term. A Financial Solution for Seniors       For seniors, a reverse mortgage can be a great financial solution. It allows them to access the       equity in their homes without selling or giving up ownership.      Reverse mortgages are also a great way to supplement retirement income. They provide a steady stream of funds that can be used to cover living expenses.   With a reverse mortgage, seniors can enjoy their retirement years and have peace of mind knowing they have a reliable source of income.Reverse mortgages are also a great way to pass on wealth to heirs. The loan is paid off from the sale of the home, and the remaining equity is passed on to the heirs.Eligible homeowners obtain reverse mortgages for many reasons including:          Repairing or modifying the home to meet the physical needs of getting older         Supplementing retirement income to meet expenses         Managing the costs of in-home care         Paying off an existing mortgage         Paying increased bills due to inflation and economy         Paying property Taxes         Delaying Social Security         Providing a source of funds for living expenses in lieu of liquidating financial investments during     times of market downturn or disruption         Helping retirement savings last longer         Purchasing a retirement home  Recent ClientsA retired couple in their late 60s, John and Susan, were struggling to make ends meet on a fixed income, due to inflation and the cost of living increasing. They had significant equity in their home but were hesitant to sell it and downsize because of the current real estate market.  They decided to explore a reverse mortgage as an option to access their home's equity without having to sell it. The reverse mortgage allowed John and Susan to access their home's equity and use the funds to pay off their existing mortgage and cover their increased living expenses. They were able to stay in their home and maintain their quality of life, without having to worry about making monthly mortgage payments. Mary Anne, a retired infusion nurse, suffered some medical challenges and her insurance did not cover all of her additional expenses.  She decided a reverse mortgage was her best option. It allowed her funds to seek non-traditonal treatment and was able to eliminate the financial stress in her life, allowing her body to heal.A retired widow in his late 70s, James wants to stay in his home as long as possible. His home was mortgage free and he intends to leave it to his two children who live out of state. The reverse mortgage allowed him to access his home's equity and use the funds to make the modifications to continue staying in the home unassisted.It allows him the peace of mind knowing the has additional money to pay an in-home care giver if and when he needs one.He is able to stay in his own home and now worry about being a burden on his out of state children.  He expressed to me that feeling of relief is priceless.This article was submitted by Nicole Cramer with Anchor Funding, Inc.  Contact Nicole at 251-349-9891 or email her at for more information about whether a reverse mortgage can work for you.

Local Services By This Author

North Baldwin Infirmary Senior Behavioral Health

Mental Health & Counseling 1815 Hand Ave, Bay Minette, Alabama, 36507

Senior Behavioral HealthAt our senior behavioral services centers in Mobile and Bay Minette, we strive to provide encouraging and individualized care to evaluate and treat behavioral and mental problems aging brings. Our assessments, services and care are geared towards ensuring your loved is as mentally and physical fit as possible as they age.What Is Senior Behavioral Health?The practice of senior behavioral health medicine seeks to provide psychiatric support and treatment to those elderly adults who suffer from behavioral, mental or emotional problems because of the losses associated with the aging process. Physicians and psychologists specializing in this field seek to provide living and caring therapy and treatment options to help the elderly work through the aging process and be as mentally health and stable for as long as they can.Our staff seeks to treat elderly individuals with emotional illnesses such as:Sleeping too much or not being able to sleepConstantly cryingRefusing to eat or eating too muchBeing forgetfulNot wanting to be around other peopleAlways being sadAdmitted to being suicidalNot caring about how they lookWhat We Can Do to HelpOur state-of-the-art senior behavioral health centers in Mobile and Bay Minette provide a compassionate and supportive environment where elderly patients are provided the therapy and care they need to thrive later in life.The services we provide includes an initial evaluation to determine the cause, emotional or biomedical, of the behavioral change or disorder. After the initial evaluation, an individualized treatment program is formed which could include group therapy, individual therapy, lifestyle training, monitoring by social workers, education programs and assessment and care of secondary needs.Holistic, Family Centered TreatmentInfirmary Healths senior behavioral unit seeks to give family members the ability to be involved in their loved ones treatment process as well as ensure that the elderly patient has a strong support group surrounding them.What to Expect from Senior Behavioral HealthThe Senior Behavioral Health units at Mobile Infirmary and North Baldwin Infirmary provide 24-hour care inpatient hospitalization program. With admissions occurring 24 hours a day, initial assessments and treatment plans are conducted by specialist psychiatrists and physicians, respectively. The units are also staffed by mental health professionals to ensure that your loved receives the very best of care. Even after discharge, our staff of physicians seek to provide supportive care by developing an ongoing care plan, providing outpatient therapy, and even a day hospital program. The goal is to ensure that the patient lives life to the fullest as they age.If Your Elderly Loved One Is Struggling With Mental Illness, We Can Help