Mental illness: What are the signs in the elderly?

As people age, they may experience any number of daily life challenges, from those relating to mobility to cognitive, emotional or other health conditions. Mental health is a main concern for the elderly as well. It is critical to know how recognize signs of mental illness, especially for those who have been tasked with managing long-term care for a parent or other loved one. Georgia residents currently dealing with such issues will want to read this post.  

The most difficult part of diagnosing mental illness in the elderly is that symptoms often mimic those associated with the normal aging process. For instance, it's typical to experience minor memory problems in as one ages. However, there is a difference between occasionally forgetting someone's name or having a tough time recalling the specific date of an event that took place years ago and not being able to remember simple instructions that were just given or always having to ask for help to find one's personal belongings.  

If the latter is occurring on more than just an intermittent basis, it definitely warrants a medical checkup because it may a sign of dementia. It is common for older people to enjoy the liberating feeling of not keeping up with the Joneses. It can be quite freeing to dress in more comfortable clothing or to feel comfortable going out without using cosmetics. If the person in question, however, is someone who typically cares about personal grooming and appearance, and he or she begins to look slovenly or disheveled, it may be sign that mental illness has set in.  

If a person who is generally social by nature becomes reclusive or starts to have mood swings, it warrants a visit to a doctor who is equipped to determine whether mental illness is the problem. Long-term planning for the mentally ill often includes special needs care. There may also come a time when appointing a guardian is in the best interests of a Georgia elder.    


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