Mental Health for Seniors - Shifting Our Perspective

It may come as a surprise to some, but seniors 85 years and older are the group second most likely to die from suicide in the United States. In a culture that puts a premium on youth and tends to downplay the importance of mental health, there is a great need for a shift in our perspective. We don’t have a problem going to the doctor to fix a broken leg, but asking for help when it comes to mental health can be an entirely different matter.
 
In my previous work as a hospice social worker, I saw firsthand how mental health plays into people’s lives as they reach their golden years. It can make such a difference for an older person just to have someone who is happy to listen to them, to share in their joys and sorrows, and to remind them that they are valuable. A common thread that I also saw was that many people went through life underestimating just how loved they were by family, friends etc. It was a joy to see some of my patients realize at end of life their worthiness of love, and that they did make a lasting impact on the world they leave behind. My hope is that our country will continue to move in a more positive direction in terms of mental health in general, and especially when it comes to seniors.
 
I found this NPR article to be helpful and informative regarding the mental health struggles that some seniors face:
 
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is an also excellent resource:
 
If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts and need help now, contact 911 or the Georgia Crisis and Access Line at 1-800-715-4225.