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Less Than 3% of People 65 and Older Receive Treatment from a Mental Health Professional

By: Dr. Lena Pearlman, LCSW

An alarming statistic published earlier this year is that less than 3% of people age 65 and older receive treatment from mental health professionals. In that same age group, there are 2 million people in the US that suffer from clinical depression. Those age 65 and older represent 25% of all suicides. A positive note is that 80% of people with depression can be successfully treated. In addition to depression, there are many other mental health issues that can be present in this group. Each of these issues pose concerns and challenges for relatives and friends.

All of us change as we age. Each developmental stage in life has positives and also some challenges. When people get to their post-retirement life, there is more free time to explore interests and hobbies, opportunities to travel, and quality time with children and grandchildren.

As we continue to age, many people begin to experience more physical health concerns that impact independence, mobility, and freedom. These physical health concerns often cause or amplify mental health related concerns. It is very important for relatives, friends and caregivers to recognize some of the signs of a mental health related concern.

Some signs of a mental health related concern in a senior include:

-Loss of appetite, sleep pattern changes, and loss of energy.

-A desire to be alone and loss of interest in previously preferred activities and hobbies.

-Drastic mood changes that last more than a couple of weeks.

-Noticeable changes in grooming and dress.

-Loss of memory.

-Negative self-image, feelings of hopelessness, and even prolonged sadness.

Some triggers that may increase the need for mental health services include:

-Grieving the loss of a friend or loved one.

-Moving from a home to an apartment or supportive living environment (reduction in independence).

-Illness, surgery or health concern.

-Onset of a mental illness.

A licensed therapist can meet with the individual on a weekly basis to help them work through their emotions, to adjust and adapt to the many changes in their life they are experiencing, and to be a trusted and consistent visitor and confidant. The therapist can also be a key member of the individual’s care team. They can share the positives and also concerns that are going on with friends, relatives, or caregivers.

All of us will age and face similar concerns and challenges. With the right team in place, and a bit of knowledge, we can significantly improve the likelihood of a positive quality of life for our aging friends or relatives.

Dr. Lena Pearlman & Associates is a mental health therapy practice in St. Louis, Missouri. The practice offers therapy and counseling services to individuals of all ages, couples, and families. The therapists in the practice specialize in stress, anxiety, depression, relationships, mental health concerns, and issues related to aging.

Dr. Lena Pearlman & Associates can be reached by phone at: 314-942-1147, by email at: bryan@stlmentalhealth.com and online at: www.STLmentalhealth.com. The office address is: 655 Craig Road, Suite 300, Creve Coeur, MO 63141.

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