October 3-9 is Mental Illness Awareness Week in Canada. It is a time to promote awareness of mental health issues in general, reduce the stigma around mental illness, and shed light on those who unfortunately still tend to suffer in silence and isolation. Mental illness does not discriminate. It affects people of all ages, education, income levels, and cultures.
The Elderly and Depression
One of the segments of the population where mental illness is often overlooked is among the elderly. The rates of those diagnosed with depression in older adults aged 65 and over are about the same as the national average for the general population. However, the rate of those in this age group experiencing general symptoms of depression(not diagnosed) is significantly higher. About 15% of older persons report symptoms of depression (Canadian Psychological Association).
Many of the elderly across our nation live alone and are significantly isolated from family and society. The Covid-19 pandemic has only further intensified that isolation. Older adults are not connected socially in ways that younger generations tend to be. The effects of loneliness and isolation worsen anxiety and depression and make it more difficult for them to reach out and find the support they need.
We need to be sensitive to the needs of the elderly in our community, whatever their living situation. Keeping connected with our older loved ones will allow us to understand their mental health needs better and help them find the services they may benefit from and get the help they need.
As part of Mental Illness Awareness Week, on Oct. 7, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Swan Valley Branch is offering a free 1-hour online presentation on Mental Health Experiences and Older Adults. Take advantage of this resource to learn more about the mental health challenges that many older adults experience and learn practical ways to promote good mental health and well-being among the elderly. More information and an online registration form can be found at: https://parkland.cmha.ca/events/older-adults/
For mental health services available in Prairie Mountain Health, visit our website.