The process of aging can be both rewarding and challenging. This time period in life can be spent enjoying retirement, vacations, hobbies, or more time with family. While many look forward to their golden years, older adults may also be faced with significant health concerns, struggles with financial stability, or behavioral health challenges.
Part of growing older is going through changes and experiences shared by others at the same stage in life. Changes like retirement can open doors to new pursuits, but it can also be quite stressful. Some find it difficult to make the adjustments and struggle with feelings of purposelessness or loneliness.
Sometimes, feelings of loneliness and despair can lead to a more serious concern, like depression. Many people assume depression is something to be expected when getting older. This couldn’t be further from the truth. As people get older, they go through difficult changes. It’s normal for an older person to experience sadness, grief, or periods of low energy, just like so many others. However, some will experience feelings that last significantly longer than temporary feelings of sadness. Click here to learn more about what this looks like.
Sometimes, depression is overlooked or even mistaken for dementia. With both depression and dementia, performing everyday tasks like cleaning, cooking, and even getting dressed can become incredibly challenging to manage.
It is critically important that seniors be given thorough diagnostic tests by appropriate medical professionals. Older persons can benefit from loved ones advocating on their behalf for the best possible treatment and care options when either dementia or depression are suspected. Also, maintaining physical health and staying mentally and socially active can have a mutually important benefit for the mind and the body.
Adults who are 65 years or older are protected by Texas law from abuse. Elder abuse may include physical abuse, sexual abuse, exploitation, emotional abuse and/or psychological abuse. It is important to recognize the signs of these different types of abuse so if you see them happening, you can report to the proper authorities.
If you suspect elder abuse is happening, please report to Department of Family Protective Services by calling the 24-hour, toll-free abuse hotline at 1-800-252-5400 from anywhere in the United States to report abuse or neglect that happened in Texas. You can also report online.
To learn more about preventing elder abuse, visit http://www.dfps.state.tx.us/Everyones_Business/default.asp.
More Information for Aging Adults Experiencing Symptoms of Mental Health Conditions:
There are many resources available for aging adults experiencing symptoms of mental health conditions and their families. Visit:
- Texas Health and Human Services (HHS) for adult mental health services available through the state.
- Texas Health and Human Services (HHS) for services available through the state.
- National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) webpage for more information on older adults and depression.
- National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) printable brochure on older adults and depression.
- Aging Texas Well is a Texas Health and Human Services initiative that helps Texans prepare for all aspects of aging at the individual, community and state level.
- American Psychological Association (APA) for additional information and resources.
- SAMHSA for publications for providers.
- World Health Organization –
- Behavioral Health Awareness online training module on Aging and Behavioral Health.