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A conversation about mental health by Tina Y. Gerber

Did you know that about 15 percent of all adults over the age of 60 experience some kind of mental health problem? Sometimes, it’s easy to tell that you or somebody you know may be experiencing mental health difficulties. Often, those signs aren’t that obvious. They may be hidden or overlooked! When it comes to mental health, many people dance around the subject. Mental health is often a misunderstood topic. I believe your mental wellness is every bit as important as your physical well-being. I read, that mental health is often left out of most public conversations. Banishing the stigma attached to mental health issues can go a long way to facilitating change. It is important for families, friends, and caregivers, to monitor loved ones changes and become comfortable about having a conversation regarding mental health despite the fear usually associated with it. Many people do not understand how to talk about it respectfully and responsibly. To help make this easier get more information on how to approach talking with family, friends, and co-workers. Potential triggers for mental illness can include alcohol, a change in environment, dementia causing illness, such as Alzheimer, loss of a loved one, physical disability, poor diet, and the list goes on and on. Did you know that mental illness is not a normal part of aging? Seniors should not feel ashamed about discussing their concerns or needs. Many seniors feel discouraged, or scared about seeking the professional support they require. They may feel vulnerable, angry that they need help, or think it’s a sign of weakness. We need to talk openly with respect, understanding and tolerance. Mental health issues that remain untreated not only impact seniors’ mental health in a negative way, but have also been shown to result in poorer physical health outcomes. While depression and anxiety disorders are commonly talked about, mental health conditions are still considered taboo. Some of the most common mental health issues in the senior population today include: delirium, bipolar disorder, dementia and even substance abuse. Mental health issues can have all kinds of different root causes and contributing factors that lead to mental conditions that interfere with a person’s life. You are never too old to make a change. Good nutrition can have a powerful and positive effect in your overall mental health. Getting enough sleep is vital for good mental health and it’s important to keep learning new things that can stimulate your mind. We all need to address medical issues immediately because the longer you wait the more likely your mental well-being will be impacted! It’s important that you stay involved in your community which can also boost your self-esteem and enable you to become more resilient when under stress. A strong family or social connection is necessary to help prevent mental health issues from disrupting your life. Don’t let others’ negative attitude stand in the way of your treatment and recovery. Be proactive when it comes to your mental well-being. And don’t be afraid to speak up.

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