One out of every five adult Americans suffers with mental illness. Some important mental health problems that occur during old age include dementia, delirium, psychosis, schizophrenia and depression. Elders suffering with mental health problems tend to have abnormal cognitive and behavioral patterns that are often associated with decreased ability to function. Other prominent symptoms that elders usually complain include sleep disturbances, a change in appetite and mood differences.
In most cases, mental health problems in elders that require treatment are quite conveniently ignored. Improper treatment of mental illnesses in elders seems to the most prominent reason contributing to high suicidal rate in these people. Many of these people require specialized mental health services.
However, there are several reasons that contribute to improper mental health services to the elderly. Some of them are listed below:
1. In most cases, elders are reluctant to undergo treatment for their mental health disorder. They continue to harbor their minds with discomfort and stigmas, thereby showing resistance to leaving their homes and going to a rehabilitation center or a clinic.
2. Our society has never shown respect or dignity for individuals suffering from mental health problems. Even a mental health professional is apprehensive about an elderly person with such condition. Beliefs and attitudes of these professionals do have a significant influence on the quality of medical care provided to the patients.
3. Medical negligence is another big hurdle. In many situations, symptoms of mental health diseases are just written off as indicators of ageing.
Other major hurdles include scarcity in federal and state-supported community prevention programs for elders, inadequate private health insurance coverage and lack of well-trained mental health staff.