Do I Need Help?
Honesty is the first order of business as denial is a common barrier in the recognition of problems and the act of seeking help us evaluate our circumstances. People who are trained in “geriatric” mental health are prepared to help older adults make evaluations and plans based on the knowledge of what is good for older bodies, older minds and older adult issues in general. It is perfectly appropriate to seek the opinion of a professional who specializes in geriatrics when considering any type of care. Just as young children see pediatricians, older adults benefit from geriatricians.
How do you know if you need help? When you are older, you don’t want to let too many things go unchecked as your body’s systems are more vulnerable to the negative effects of compounded problems. If you feel or act differently, notice physical symptoms that are not normal for you or experience trouble in areas that were not previously problematic, it’s probably time to get things, checked out.
Symptoms of mental health problems include:
- Withdrawn behavior
- Excessive worry or nervousness
- Guilt and remorse
- Low self-esteem, no confidence
- Excessive doubt, hopelessness and negativity
- Mood swings
- Heavy suspicion, mistrust of loved one
- Disturbance in sleep and/or appetite
- Poor memory and concentration, confusion, forgetfulness, difficulty making decisions
- Neglect of self-care
- Persistent sad, anxious or “empty” mood
- Loss of interest in pleasurable hobbies and activities once enjoyed
- Decreased energy, fatigue, being “slowed down”
- Restlessness, irritability
- Persistent and unexplained physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment such as digestive disorders and unexplained pain
- Increased talking, racing thoughts
- Inappropriate social behavior
- Delusions or hallucinations (believing things that are not true, seeing or hearing things that are not there)
- Increasing inability to cope with problems and responsibility
- Denial of obvious problems
- Over use of alcohol, medications and drugs
- Suicidal thoughts (Must get immediate attention)
Getting help is the next important step. There are many options for assessment and treatment.