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Assessing Mental Illness in Older Adults

Mental health challenges can affect people at any age. Many older adults have concerns about mental illness later in life and experience symptoms that often go undiagnosed.
 
How do we address these concerns? The first step is to get an assessment with a mental health professional.
 
Assessment and Approach
 
Mental health assessments work best in a team. Consider finding a coordinated health care team of medical professionals, including social workers, physicians, and others, who can work together to assess and diagnose the older adult’s overall mental health.
 
It is also important to look at every medication the older adult is currently taking. While prescription drugs can help manage many mental health symptoms, over-medication can cause significant negative side-effects. Work with a professional to make sure that each prescription is having a positive impact on the older adult’s overall health.
 
Finding Support
 
You are not alone. Older adults can participate in discussion groups that connect them with others who also share similar mental health symptoms and experiences, like grief, chronic illness, and family stress.
 
These support groups are also a great resource for caregivers. Find spaces where you can get the tools and education you need to cope with the challenges of caregiving and manage stress. It’s a great way to connect with and learn from others who are in the same boat.
 
If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, the most important thing you can do is reach out and get help. Ask friends and family members for support, or call a doctor immediately.
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