6 Potential Effects of Aging on Seniors’ Mental Health

6 Ways Aging Affects Mental Health in the Elderly

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Approximately 20 percent of adults 55 and older experience some type of mental health issue, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, simply being older doesn’t mean your aging loved one will have mental or cognitive problems. That being said, it’s important to be aware of the ways aging can affect the mental and emotional health of older adults. Six of them are discussed below. 


Depression sometimes develops in the elderly because of increased physical limitations, fewer opportunities to socialize, and the loss of spouses, loved ones, and friends. If you’re seeing signs of depression in your loved one, encourage him or her to seek help. Other possible solutions include: 

  • Modifying activities to account for physical limitations 
  • Finding new ways for your loved one to interact with others 
  • Helping your parent find meaningful activities to do, such as volunteering

For families living in Columbia, home care can be a wonderful solution when their aging loved ones need companionship and socialization as well as assistance with daily household tasks. At Assisting Hands Home Care, we thrive on helping seniors maintain their independence while living in the comfort of home.

Cognitive Impairment

Age naturally affects the brain, but these changes can be accelerated by conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, other forms of dementia, and certain types of Parkinson’s disease. Cognitive impairment isn’t always preventable or treatable, but older adults may be able to remain cognitively sharp by: 

  • Learning new things
  • Doing memory-based activities like solving word puzzles
  • Getting sufficient sleep and staying alert

Caring for senior loved ones can be challenging for families who don’t have expertise or professional training in home care, but this challenge doesn’t have to be faced alone. Family caregivers can turn to Assisting Hands Home Care for the help they need. We provide high-quality home care as well as comprehensive Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care.

Anxiety & Stress

Older adults sometimes become increasingly anxious or stressed because of financial worries, apprehension about their physical health, or even concerns about being able to stay in their own homes as they age. The key to helping your loved one handle stress and anxiety is to get to the root of the problem, which may involve: 

  • Encouraging open, honest communication
  • Suggesting therapy, if appropriate
  • Offering practical ways to address the concerns that are causing the anxiety or stress

Psychological Disorders

According to research cited by Cascade Behavioral Health, approximately 25 percent of people 50 and over with mood disorders are diagnosed with bipolar disorder as well. Psychiatric Times reports disorders of this nature tend to produce more severe symptoms in older adults, including hyperactivity, confusion, irritability, and psychosis. Elderly individuals may also be affected by late-life psychological disorders that include: 

  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Late-onset schizophrenia
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that may be related to the loss of a loved one or an earlier life event

The solution here is to recognize symptoms suggesting something isn’t right, which will allow appropriate medical and therapeutic treatments to be recommended and implemented. 

Decreased Emotional Processing

Older adults tend to be less capable of shifting from one emotional state to another as quickly as they once did. The result may be a reduced ability to adjust to negative situations well. You may be able to minimize issues related to this change by attempting to maintain a positive tone around your loved one whenever possible. 

Reduced Executive Functioning

This refers to the collective mental skills required for activities involving problem-solving, planning, organization, and abstract thinking. Reduced executive functioning can affect the ability to adapt to new situations, make complex decisions, or think abstractly. Making an effort to retain and enhance cognitive skills can be an effective way to minimize changes of this nature. 

Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same type of at-home care. Columbia families can rely on Assisting Hands Home Care to provide individualized care plans to meet their elderly loved ones’ unique care needs. Our caregivers help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and we offer mentally stimulating activities that can stave off cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia. Call one of our Care Managers at 443-233-1245 to learn about our customized in-home care plans.