Mental Health Services in Assisted Living Communities
Seniors often face mental health challenges. Learn more about these concerns, and the mental health services provided by Assisted Living Communities.
It’s estimated that 20% of people ages 55 and older experience some type of mental health concern, from feelings of isolation or anxiety, to conditions such as dementia or psychosis. These issues can be compounded if you or your loved one are living alone. In many cases, moving to an Assisted Living Community can be a great help when it comes to coping with mental health concerns.
From the most common measures of inclusion to unique, customized care, there are a wide variety of mental health services found at senior living properties. Today, we are going to look at some of the most common mental health challenges among seniors, and the quality mental health services that so many Assisted Living Communities provide.
Common Mental Health Problems for Elderly in Senior Living Communities
Before reviewing solutions, it’s important to understand the problems that so many seniors face every day. Here are the most common types of mental health disorders experienced by seniors:
The risks of isolation are many, especially when you’re living alone, don’t receive regular visits from friends, family or caregivers, and are not actively engaged in the community. Isolation often comes with higher levels of anxiety, which can lead to even more serious problems, including suicidal thoughts.
It is not true that depression is a “normal” part of the aging process. However, it can impact anyone at any age, especially seniors. Aging brings about different life challenges, including physical health problems, adjusting to retirement, reduced vision, feelings of isolation, and other challenges that can lead to depression.
Affective and Anxiety Disorders
Common fears about getting older can cause one to experience affective and/or anxiety disorders. Some seniors can become consumed with worries about falling, being left alone, financial difficulties relating to living expenses and medication, or the feeling they’re coming to the final chapter of life. These feelings cause fear, emotional distress, and can have an extremely negative impact on quality of life.
Even the younger generations among us will sometimes joke about having a “senior moment,” i.e., a relatively harmless but sudden lapse in memory or losing one’s train of thought. As we get older, cognitive impairment often increases, as we experience difficulty remembering names and dates, learning new skills, concentrating for extended periods of time, or struggling to make decisions, both large and small.
More serious cognitive impairment is often labeled as dementia, which is actually a non-specific term for any clinical syndrome that impairs social and/or occupational functioning. This includes the areas of:
The common definition of psychosis is experiencing a break from reality, i.e., serious disruptions to a person’s thoughts and perceptions that make it difficult to discern between what’s real and what isn’t.
Mental Health Solutions in Assisted Living
Assisted Living Communities can be of tremendous benefit to seniors who are experiencing mental health issues and also provide social enrichment to the elderly. Many such communities offer a number of services and highlights, including:
A Sense of Belonging and Community
When you’re a resident of an Assisted Living Community, you have daily opportunities to engage in casual social exchanges with fellow residents and staff. There are also any number of structured and scheduled activities, from in-person group chats to movie nights, card games, walks around the property, and even field trips to local museums, parks, and shopping malls. You can spend as much time alone as you’d like, but there’s always someone to talk to and something to do, literally right outside your door. This, of course, is the best way to combat the aforementioned feelings of anxiety and depression that are often exacerbated by isolation.
Relief From Daily Chores and Tasks
Having to perform household chores inside and outside of the home can not only be physically taxing, but can also wear on you mentally. You won’t feel the pressure of having to keep up with housekeeping or changing the linen when you’re in an Assisted Living Community. This type of service is also available in Independent Living, where seniors join a community to focus on having the most fun and a higher quality of life.
Safety and Security
Assisted Living Communities are safe and secure environments. Knowing there’s someone at the front desk and that the community has security measures in place can provide a great sense of relief.
Help with Medication Management
When you’re living alone, it’s far too easy to forget to take medication, and over or under-medicating can be a real concern. When you’re in an Assisted Living Community, staff can make sure you always take the proper medication at the right time.
Reduced Financial Stress
Living in your own home—even if that home has been paid for—means you’re taking on all financial responsibilities on your own. If you choose to live in an Assisted Living Community, you know what the monthly cost will be and you won’t have to worry about sudden and sometimes quite substantial expenses that crop up, e.g., having to replace a roof, or buying a new water heater.
Assisted Living Communities provide seniors with three nutritionally balanced meals each day, helping to ensure that those who are experiencing mental health concerns are receiving the dietary support they need. Hydration can also be an issue with those experiencing isolation and depression; in an Assisted Living Community, they’ll make sure you’re drinking enough water.
Immediate Care and Attention
Staff are available 24/7 to notice any red flags that might not be detected if you’re living alone. If an Assisted Living Community has a Memory Care unit (also known as a Memory Care Neighborhood), it will have enhanced security features to reduce the chances of someone wandering, especially in units where residents have advanced stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia. Assisted Living Communities often offer proximity to mental health services provided through hospitals or specialty clinics. Some communities have also started offering group and/or individual therapy sessions with licensed mental health professionals.
Choosing an Assisted Living Community that not only cares about your mental health, but also meets specific professional requirements, is essential. To make this process easier, check out our next article, “Who Regulates Assisted Living Communities in the US?”
Find Senior Care Near You
Protecting your mental health is about preserving your overall well-being. Mental struggles can impact every aspect of life, but with professional support in Assisted Living, Independent Living, or Memory Care, seniors have an ally when it comes to the problems so many people face on a daily basis.
Referah Family Connection Agents are standing by to help you find that perfect senior living community for you or your loved one. With thousands of options across the country, there is a community just around the corner that offers great friendship, quality care, and so much more. Ready to find your community? Get started, today!