How to help older adults struggling with mental health

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — May is Mental Health Awareness Month and it is an important time to remember that even our oldest and wisest adults can be affected by mental health issues.

Tammy McMinnn, owner of Right at Home in home care and assistance in Indianapolis says that the older population has had more mental health challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Obviously, we all have experienced a lot of changes in our lifestyle due to the pandemic, a lot of isolation that wasn’t there before, particularly for those who are older…they’ve been affected probably more than the rest of us,” McMinn said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that up to 13.5% older adults who require home healthcare have depression.

McMinn says there are warning signs that a caretaker can look for that indicate an older adult is struggling with mental health.

“Some of the warning signs are surprising…one is if they start to get a lot concerned about their appearance. If they’re concerned about how they’re looking or if they’re gaining weight or losing weight, that’s a warning sign in the elderly that there is perhaps some anxiety or depression setting in.”

McMinn says another sign is the fear of being alone, as is when they stop doing things they typically enjoy.

There are things caretakers can do in order if they start to notice these signs.

McMinn suggests that the first thing to do is to have a conversation with them to gauge how they’re feeling, and if that doesn’t help, talk to a doctor or nurse practitioner.

Mental health resources