Older Adults and Mental Health—Don’t Suffer in Silence

Jan 11, 2024

According to the CDC, suicide rates are on the rise among people aged 65 and older. Causes of suicide in older adults range from depression to grief over the passing of loved ones, to chronic illness.

While depression is a common problem among older adults, the National Institute of Aging says that clinical depression is not a normal part of aging.

In fact, studies show that most older adults feel satisfied with their lives, despite having more illnesses or physical problems than younger people.

However, individuals who experienced depression as a younger person may be more likely to have depression as an older adult.

Tune in to our January Facebook Live and discover how mental wellness can be achieved in the later years. The Anti-Stigma Coalition presents Older Adults, Depression and Getting Help on Thursday, January 18 at noon.

Panelists include Michelle Abraham, LCSW-R, Assistant Director, Catholic Charities Behavioral Health Services; John Jones, Social Caseworker, Amherst Center for Senior Services; and Angela Marinucci, Commissioner of Senior Services, Erie County.

The event is free and open to the public. Questions from viewer are welcome during the presentation.

According to John Jones, older adults can experience stigma which can prevent people talking about their mental health or seeking help.

“Ageism exists, unfortunately, and with it preconceived notions about what it means to some to be an ‘older adult’,” he said. “Society sometimes unfortunately gives negative connotation to aging.”

If they understand that depression and anxiety are common, older adults can learn about the signs and seek out a health care provider to receive treatment.

“I am aware of seniors that have dealt with depression, spoke about it, sought treatment and as a result now are coping better, and living healthier more fulfilling lives with better mental health,” Jones said.

What are some ways to stay mentally health?

Jones says some actions are proper exercise and nutrition, socialization amongst peers, maintaining connections, and staying involved in the community.

If you or an older adult you know exhibits suicidal thoughts or behavior, you can help—including by calling the 988 suicide prevention helpline.

A healthy lifestyle changes can have long-term benefits to your mental health.

Here are a few steps to take:

Be physically active and eat a health, balanced diet. This may help avoid illnesses that can bring on disability or depression.

Get 7 – 9 hours of sleep each night.

Stay in touch with friends and family.

Participate in activities that you enjoy.

Let friends, family, and your physician know when you’re experiencing symptoms of depression.

National Institute on Aging

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