There’s a lot of talk these days about mental health. As more and more people are discussing the importance of recognizing the warning signs and symptoms of mental health problems, and our health care providers are making treatment options easier to access, one group of individuals is often overlooked: seniors.

As we age, our changing life experiences can make us more vulnerable to the two most common mental health problems: anxiety and depression. There are many life changes that can affect the mental health of seniors. These include:

• Injury or illness

• Bereavement

• Financial insecurity

• Life changes including retirement or moving to a new home

• Elder abuse including neglect and financial exploitation


Excessive anxiety is a common reaction to increased stress. Symptoms can include:

• increased fear and worry

• feeling restless

• having difficulty concentrating

• headaches, stomach aches and unexplained pains

• irritability

• insomnia


Depression is a persistent feeling of sadness, hopelessness, and/or a loss of interest in daily activities. Symptoms can include:

• loss of appetite

• low energy level

• low self-esteem

• apathy

• social isolation

• suicidal thoughts

While many of these symptoms can often overlap with the typical experiences of aging, particularly with dementia patients, it’s important to be aware of a pattern of new behavior that occurs after a significant life-changing event. Enrichment programs, physical wellness programs, therapy and medication are all possible treatments that can be explored to ensure that caretakers are meeting all the mental health needs of older adults.