This article from the Philly Voice discusses what stigma is, how it influences our understanding of mental wellness, and what we can do to challenge it’s impact and work toward a healthy dialogue about mental health with the older adults in our lives.
The Georgetown University School of Nursing shares a number of statistics on older adult mental health specifically around anxiety, depression, and suicide rates.
“For years, geriatricians and researchers have sounded the alarm about the use of benzodiazepines among older adults… Now the opioid epidemic has generated fresh warnings, because pain relievers like Vicodin (hydrocodone with Tylenol) and OxyContin (oxycodone) are also frequently prescribed for older people. When patients take both, they’re at risk for overdosing… But fatal overdoses — which are a comparatively tiny number given the size of the older population — represent just one of many longtime concerns about these medications.”
Research shows that the most effective way to combat stigma is through education and contact, making intergenerational relationships a strong tool for fighting ageism and behavioral health stigma. Plus, there are a number of mental and physical health benefits.
The Mental Health Association of Maryland is fighting distorted perceptions around mental health and aging with this educational guidebook. It covers a wide array of topics for older adults and caregivers alike, offering great information about brain health and some of the challenges that may come later in life.
Click the title to access the full PDF version or head to www.mdaging.org for more information on aging, behavioral health, or how to start a "Guidebook Study Group" to help bring this important information to your community. Click Read More to access some of our favorite Guidebook quotes, formatted perfectly for sharing on social media and beyond.
This Distorted Perceptions original article explores the intersection of ageism and behavioral health stigmas, and the “double challenges” that can result for older adults with behavioral health conditions. In summary, both stigmas are alive and well, and although positive cultural changes are beginning to occur we must “address the stigma of being an older person in a culture that under-values aging, as well as the stigma of being someone with a behavioral health challenge in a culture that views those challenges with fear and contempt.”
“A 2014 study showed that negative self perceptions of ageing were associated not only with poorer physical health outcomes but also more severe depressive symptoms. This is supported by findings from the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing, which showed a higher risk of onset of depression and anxiety among those with negative ageing perceptions. Finally, several other studies have found that negative age beliefs can exacerbate stress.”
"'10,000 Americans turn 65 every day. Geriatricians are in increasingly short supply. So medical schools have begun teaching all students how to care for an aging population. Tackling ageism is a big part of it. ‘You need to make sure students basically like older patients. See them as individuals worthy of love and care.'"
“Contrary to conventional wisdom, an increase in age can lead to an increase in happiness. In fact, older adults tend to be more satisfied with their lives than their younger peers. But, for those who need it, limited supply of and access to proper geriatric psychiatric treatment leave many older adults' mental health issues underdiagnosed and thus undertreated.”