Anxiety, depression affect well-being of older population

Some old people enjoy high levels of subjective well-being despite age-related illnesses such as heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, among others. German scientists have tried to find out the reasons behind it. A new study, published recently in the journal BMC Geriatrics, has reported a strong association between low levels of well-being experienced and depression/anxiety.

The study that involved 3,600 participants with an average age of 73 years revealed that depression, anxiety and sleeping problems, as well as a low income, might negatively impact the well-being of both men and women. In the case of women, the authors cited, loneliness could also affect their well-being and overall quality of life.

The researchers suggested that aging had no direct association with the decline in mood and quality of life. “It is rather the case that psychosocial factors such as depression or anxiety impair subjective well-being,” said Professor Karl-Heinz Ladwig, head of the Mental Health Research Group at the Institute of Epidemiology II, Helmholtz Zentrum München, and one of the study authors.

According to the scientists, it is the first study to investigate the impact of stress on emotional well-being in such a broader and non-clinical context. The findings suggested that psychosocial factors such as depression and anxiety disorders, and low income, strongly affected the well-being of the elderly. Surprisingly, poor physical health and low physical activity (also referred to as multi-morbidity) showed little impact on perceived life satisfaction.

The scientists supported the efficacy of appropriate services and interventions in improving the well-being and quality of life of older people. In addition, living alone, social disintegration and impaired social communication were also identified as some common age-related stereotypes, which could substantially affect the sense of well-being, especially in older women. Emphasizing the importance of high levels of subjective well-being, the authors linked it to a lower mortality risk. Therefore, the findings called out for more efforts focused on preventative and therapeutic mental health interventions among older adults, especially for women experiencing loneliness.

Treatment of mental health problems in elderly

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the population of people over the age of 60 will nearly double by 2050. With about 15 percent of the global population aged 60 years and above experiencing a mental health disorder, there is a need for strong measures to be adopted to ensure the well-being of the elderly. The WHO has made some effective recommendations for dealing with the mental health problems in the aged population such as:

  • Prevention and management of age-related chronic diseases such as mental and substance use disorders
  • Developing specialized health professionals, trained to provide care for older persons
  • Improving physical as well as psychological health and well-being
  • Drafting sustainable policies for long-term palliative care
  • Ensuring family and social support so that they do not feel isolated
  • Providing adequate housing facilities through supportive policy

Road to recovery

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), in 2012, more than 20 percent of the adults aged 65 and older met the criteria for a mental disorder during the previous 12 months. Various studies show that older people with mental disorders are less likely than middle aged adults to receive treatment for their psychiatric problems from a mental health specialist.

Experts feel that the elderly population needs more care and attention as mental problems are common among them. If you or a loved one is grappling with a mental health problem, the 24/7 Mental Health Helpline can help. We offer valuable information on 247 mental health treatment. Chat online or call our 24/7 helpline 855-653-8178 for more details on mental rehab helpline.