ShieldMySenior.com is a new resource for senior citizens and their caregivers. They realized there was no central resource for aging adults who were seeking to stay independent as long as possible. Their goal is to fill that void by offers some helpful suggestions. One of them is that elderly mental health is extremely important to a senior’s overall well-being. Unfortunately, many of today’s seniors are struggling to get adequate help and support. Physicians, caregivers, and family members should have concern for geriatric mental health issues
Mental illness in the elderly often gets confused with symptoms of aging. But, there are important differences that can signal a more serious mental health condition. Caregivers should understand the symptoms of mental illness and learn how best to support senior mental health.
PREVALENCE OF MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES IN TODAY’S SENIORS
All ages can suffer from mental health issues. But, those 55 or older are more at risk for mental health concerns than the younger population. In fact, 20% of people in this age range suffer from some type of mental health concern. Anxiety or depression are among the most common.
Men over 85 are most at risk for suicide than younger generations or women. Additionally, about 45 out of every 100,000 elders commit suicide, which is most often the result of an elderly mental health issue.
The facts are scary, and it gets more concerning as our population ages. By 2050, it’s estimated that the world’s elderly population will double its current size. This leaves more seniors susceptible to mental health issues.
THE BIG PROBLEM
The biggest problem with mental illness in the elderly is, perhaps, the things we don’t understand about it. There are often stigmas associated with mental health. For example, portrayals we see on television or in movies make those with mental illness seem frightening. This leads to a lack of desire to talk about mental illness, and instead, it gets swept under the rug.
Seniors, additionally, have to confront ageism. People often dismiss concerning behaviors in seniors as effects of aging. In reality, there are important differences between aging and elderly mental health concerns. Not knowing the differences can seriously affect a senior’s well-being.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MENTAL ILLNESS AND AGING
It’s true that some symptoms of mental illness and aging can overlap. But, it’s important to be aware of differences between age and an elderly mental illness. If symptoms aren’t caught early enough, a senior is at high risk for severe anxiety, depression, or even suicide.
Many seniors don’t feel comfortable speaking with their primary care physicians about their concerns. Instead, they fear their doctors downplaying their symptoms. Of those who do speak up, about 50% of mental health disorders in the elderly still go diagnosed.
Anxiety and depression are common in seniors. But, doctors frequently pass symptoms off as nothing more than normal aging. Early detection of mental health issues in seniors is vital to receiving proper care and treatment. Read more
Molly Anderson has seen how important it is to address mental health issues before they take control. She truly believes it’s lifesaving to nurture our innermost selves before mental health conditions become debilitating, whether it’s something as common as stress and anger or something as complex as depression or suicidal thoughts.
As part of her work with Recovery Hope, she sent this article in order to offer insight and support for those who may be struggling.
There are all kinds of benefits to meditation, both physical and psychological. From reduced chronic pain to better cognitive function, meditating every day or even a few times a week is a wonderful way to boost your overall well-being and happiness. Creating the ideal space for your quiet reflection isn’t difficult, but there are specific elements you’ll want to include and others you’ll want to avoid. Let this be your guide to designing the perfect meditation room in your own home, and reap the most benefits from your meditation time.
Pick the right location
Naturally the first step is to choose a room. Make sure it’s a space where you feel relaxed and comfortable from the moment you walk in. Avoid using a home office or workspace so that no worries of unpaid bills, lingering deadlines, or upcoming projects can invade your peaceful state. If possible, you should also avoid rooms that are sleep-focused, like your bedroom or even in the living room near your favorite napping couch.
Your meditation room should be somewhere away from the house’s general traffic flow so that no matter when you’re meditating, you won’t be disturbed by passersby. Make it somewhere as isolated as possible, and be sure your family or roommates know it will be a special, quiet place where you shouldn’t be disturbed. If you live in an urban setting and just about every room carries noise from the outside world, pick the one that’s most quiet — ways to drown out external distractions will be discussed later on.
If possible, choose a room that offers a view of nature, whether it’s your backyard, the lake just beyond your neighborhood, or mountains in the distance. If you find water particularly soothing, you could pick a place that has an unobscured view of your pool. It could even be a small window that overlooks the giant oak tree in your neighbor’s yard. Just be sure that your perspective won’t be invaded by traffic — be it automobiles or people — that could be distracting and prevent you from finding the focus and tranquility you’ll need to meditate. Read more
College of Dupage Nursing Student Joyce Koenig reports that recent research indicates that the effects from bullying during childhood or adolescence may have detrimental effects lasting into adulthood. The effects from bullying extend beyond issues of self-esteem and include self-harm and academic failure, lasting, oftentimes long after the bullying has stopped.
Reports from three longitudinal studies; the Epidemiologic Multicenter Child Psychiatric Study in Finland, the Great Smoky Mountains Study in the US, and the National Child Development Study in the UK, demonstrated that adults who were bullied during childhood have higher rates of agoraphobia, depression, anxiety, panic disorder and suicide in their 20’s, and these effects may last into the 50’s. In addition, individuals experienced an increased risk for psychiatric hospitalization and the use of psychiatric medications, at rates comparable to those in foster care or victims of childhood trauma. According to the World Psychiatric Association, these conclusions, cannot be ignored. The findings do not allow causal inferences, however, the population involved separate cohorts from three countries, thus, the consistency of the results is compelling. Childhood IQ, parental socio-economic status and gender were accounted for in the studies. The cohorts were controlled for mental health problems during childhood, indicating bullying contributed to the mental health problems in adulthood. Read more
Susan Berg hared the following story in the Wall Street Journal:During a routine trip to my local grocery, I ran into an acquaintance I had not seen in more than a year. She looked great and was her typically upbeat, energetic self. We exchanged hellos. I was not prepared for what came next.”I was recently diagnosed with early-stage Alzheimer’s,” she said.
This warm, accomplished, Berkeley-educated woman, a mother and grandmother who was my go-to person for local political goings-on, great books and recipes, then said, without skipping a beat, “I am doing OK right now, and I have signed up for a clinical trial.”
I hugged her and told her how sorry I was. Told her there are no words.
In a daze, I finished my shopping. Driving home, I burst into tears.
How to act?
It was many months later that our paths crossed again. I saw her across the room at our local synagogue. She was not close enough to say hello. In a way, I was relieved. Would she recognize me? And if not, what do I say?
As many as 5.4 million Americans have the disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. For friends and relatives, there is the inevitable question of how to act.
“When we are friends with someone with Alzheimer’s and interacting in a variety of settings, we may do our best to do the right thing and say the right thing,” said Ruth Drew, director of family and information services at the Alzheimer’s Association. “But it may not always be the right thing.”
Drew said that Alzheimer’s disease progresses more rapidly in some people than in others. Many who are newly diagnosed stay in the early stage, retaining their personality and people skills, for quite a while, but for others, serious changes happen more quickly.
Christopher Marano, a geriatric psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins Medicine, said that the interval between the initial diagnosis and a significant downturn can range from five to 20 years, but that “people who are diagnosed at a younger age tend to progress faster.” Read more
They thought it would be funny: During lunch, the boys threw peanuts at a fellow student with severe food allergies. The Los Angeles area fifth-grader was so sensitive to nuts that exposure might send him to the emergency room.
He said: “No, stop. That could kill me.”
When he turned away to talk to a friend, one of the boys stashed peanuts in the container that held his lunch.
Seeing the nasty trick, the allergic boy’s friends quickly grabbed the container and threw it away, possibly saving their friend from a terrible accident.
This incident from 2015 appeared on a website for families dealing with food allergies. The mother of the bullied boy was interviewed for this story but spoke on the condition of anonymity because of privacy concerns.
Food is a prop for celebration and for pranks. We throw rice at a wedding and a whipped-cream pie at a clown. But there’s nothing funny about it when bullies turn food into a weapon to frighten or harm those with allergies.
Researchers have recently begun studying these incidents.
Bullying, harassing and teasing of children with food allergies seems “common, frequent, and repetitive,” concluded a 2010 study that surveyed 353 food-allergic teens, adults and the parents of food-allergic children.
Food allergies affect an estimated 15 million Americans, including 6 million children, according to Food Allergy Research & Education, an advocacy group. That amounts to 1 in every 13 young people in the classroom. The prevalence of food allergies among children rose to 5.1 percent in 2009-2011 from 3.4 percent in 1997-1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For those afflicted, ingestion of certain foods makes the immune system overreact; reactions can range from mild, such as itchiness, to potentially fatal anaphylaxis, a condition that can include trouble breathing and poor blood circulation.
Eight foods seem to cause most reactions: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish. People with severe food allergies often carry lifesaving medications such as epinephrine injectors and must be extremely vigilant about their exposure to certain foods.
- Laughter triggers feel-good chemicals. Bursting into laughter stimulates endorphins. This releases dopamine in the brain, which promotes feelings of pleasure and well-being. It even relieves pain.
- Laughter helps learning. According to research from the University College London, when people try to understand jokes, it activates parts of the brain important to learning and understanding.
- Laughter improves short-term memory. Research at Loma Linda University revealed older adults who watched 20 minutes of funny videos prior to memory recall tests did significantly better than adults who were asked to wait quietly. The researchers report laughter reduces stress levels, and when stress is lowered, memory improves. Making time to laugh may be especially helpful for older adults who are experiencing memory loss.
- Laughter engages the whole brain. Laughter sustains high-amplitude gamma waves throughout the entire brain. It provides the brain with a workout that promotes clear thinking, focus and thought integration. Brain MRI studies show laughter has brain effects similar to meditation.
- Laughter burns calories. While laughter alone isn’t an aerobic workout, it requires more energy than sitting still. A Vanderbilt University study
reported episodes of laughter use 10 to 20 percent more energy than sitting in a reclining position. The duration and intensity of the laugh affect the amount of calories used. The energy expended laughing is comparable to sedentary activities such as light clerical work or playing a card game.
- Laughter makes exercise fun. Laughter both strengthens and relaxes muscles. According to a recent study, combining laughter with a physical activity program emphasizing strength, balance and flexibility improves older adults’ mental health, aerobic endurance, confidence and motivation. “The combination of laughter and exercise may influence older adults to begin exercising and to stick with the program,” Celeste Greene, lead author of the study, said.
- Laughter fosters relationships. Telling a joke might open the door to new relationships. An Oxford University study found when participants who did not know each other had good laugh together, they shared significantly more personal information. The research supports the premise laughter encourages relationship development.
With more than 5 million people living with with Alzheimer’s disease in the US, chances are you know someone who is impacted. Researchers across the country are currently conducting clinical trials aimed at identifying new treatments, and they need your help. Without participants, the pace of new research discoveries is slowed.
The Anti-Amyloid Treatment in Asymptomatic Alzheimer’s Disease (A4) Study is currently recruiting healthy adults between the ages of 65 and 85 who have no cognitive impairment, to test an experimental medication that may prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s dementia. If you fit these criteria or know someone else who does, please call 1-844-A4STUDY (1-844-247-8839) or click here to learn more about the A4 Study and how you can get involved in the fight.
To view a customized list of clinical trials for which you might be eligible, please visit TrialMatch, the Alzheimer’s Association’s free and easy to use clinical trial matching service.
The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s disease®.
The use of essential oils for health and wellness is a practice that is becoming more and more common in homes all over the world. However, every essential oil has its own unique properties, so it’s important to learn what each can do.
1. Get Better Sleep for More Energy in the Daytime
Lavender has been used for hundreds of years as a way to treat insomnia, restless leg syn-drome, and other sleep-related problems.
In the past, people would dry up lavender leaves and put them under their pillows. The scent given off was said to promote relaxation by inducing alpha waves in the brain.
A study was published in the Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand which investi-gated the effects of lavender oil on mood, the central nervous system, and the autonomic nervous sys-tem.
The results showed that the lavender oil caused a decrease in blood pres-sure, skin tempera-ture, and heart rate, along with an increase in the power of alpha and theta brain activities.
How to use it?
In order to create your own lavender sleep aid, you can mix five or six drops of lavender essen-tial oil with a half cup of distilled water.
Add in one teaspoon of witch hazel and put it all into a spray bottle. Before bed, spritz your pillow case and linens with the lavender oil mixture.
You can also fill an oil diffuser with a few drops of the oil and set it by your bed.
2. Relieve Headaches
Lavender oil can be used to soothe and prevent headaches. Whether you suffer from mi-graines or other headache types such as gastric, nervous, general, sinus, or tension, this oil may be able to provide relief.
Researchers at the Mashhad University of Medical Science Department of Neurology per-formed a study on the efficacy of lavender oil inhalation in treating migraines.
The results showed 71% of those who inhaled lavender oil had symptoms improve partially or in full, while only 47% of the paraffin group reported improvements.
They concluded that inhaling lavender can be effec-tive in the acute management of migraine headaches.
How to use it?
There are a few different ways that you can use lavender oil in order to gain the benefits it has to offer for headaches.
One way is by getting an oil diffuser and running your lavender essential oil through it inside your home or office. Add four to five drops.
Another method is taking two to three drops of the oil and directly rubbing it in on the areas of your head that are feeling pain.
3. Reduce Anxiety and Depression
Lavender is calming, anti-convulsive, and a sedative that is used to reduce anxiety and depres-sive feelings.
For patients suffering from severe anxiety, lavender aromas can be used to aid in reprogramming the mind following a panic or acute attack.
With regular use, the relief process can start with the calming memories that surround the scent of lavender.
Forty-two college women studying in a nursing program at Keukdong College had reported is-sues with insomnia and depression.
They were entered into a study to determine if lavender scents would have an effect on their mental health conditions.
The results showed that lavender oil is beneficial for insomnia and depression in female college students.
How to use it?
One way to use lavender essential oils to reduce anxiety and depression is through hand massage. The scent can be mixed in with lotion and gently rubbed onto the surface of the skin.
For those that are suffering from panic or anxiety attacks, simply open up the bottle of oil and inhale the scent. Putting a few drops in a constantly running oil diffuser in your home is never a bad idea either as a preventative measure.
4. Reduce Agitation in Dementia
Lavender scents have been proven to create a relaxing, positive, and stable mood for those that use it.
People that suffer from dementia will frequently become confused which causes irritation and agitation. With the properties that lavender oil has, the ability to reduce these undesirable feelings is possible.
There have been a plethora of controlled clinical studies performed to evaluate the effec-tiveness of lavender oil in patients with dementia.
The goal being to determine if there are any changes in the participant’s moods, agitation, alertness, likelihood to wander, and other side effects related to the disease.
In one such study, lavender geranium and other essential oils were applied directly to the skin of 39 patients for an unspecified amount of time.
At the conclusion of the study, it was recorded that these individuals were more alert, less agitated, and they slept better at night. It was determined that lavender does have a positive effect on the mood of dementia patients, but further research is required.
How to use it?
For people that have been diagnosed with dementia, place an oil diffuser in their room with lav-ender oil.
This is an effective way for them to inhale the scent without someone having to ex-plain to them what they are doing and potentially confusing them even more.
Dementia patients that allow hand massages can also benefit from a few drops in their favorite lotion before appli-cation.