Geriatric Well-being: Addressing the Needs of the Ageing Population
Written by: Sabeeha Azmi
With an ageing population worldwide, geriatric mental well-being is an interesting and important area on the rise. The well-being of older adults deserves awareness, attention, and care as it affects their quality of life significantly. The World Health Organization reports that by 2050, the number of individuals 60 and over is expected to double, reaching a whopping 2.1 billion individuals. Such a demographic shift suggests that the prevalence of issues related to mental health and well-being amongst the older population will also rise. Older individuals are impacted by unique challenges such as cognitive decline, dementia, social isolation, physical health factors, and common issues such as anxiety and depression, rendering them a vulnerable population that requires support and care.
Giving priority to the mental health and well-being of older individuals is important for several crucial reasons:
Overall Quality of Life: As older individuals often face loneliness, indecisiveness, and doubt after retirement, addressing these issues can greatly improve their well-being and overall quality of life. Providing appropriate care can help older adults better navigate challenging times and improve their relationships and daily functioning.
Improving Physical Health: It is widely known that individuals’ mental health is interconnected with their physical health. If mental health issues are left untreated, it can exacerbate chronic and physical conditions which then could lead to poorer health outcomes.
Social Engagement: Staying engaged with communities and taking part in activities is important for older adults. By addressing and receiving care, older adults can stay active within society, reducing the chances of experiencing social isolation and disengagement.
When it comes to geriatric mental health, it can often be met with stigma, and problems faced are often simply explained as a natural part of ageing, which could discourage individuals from seeking help. Therefore, strategies must be employed to promote the mental well-being of older adults:
Raising Awareness: Older adults, their families, healthcare providers, and the general public must be educated about how necessary it is to pay attention to mental health in ageing. Workshops, public campaigns, open discussions, and other means can be used to educate and inform about common geriatric issues, how and where older individuals can reach out for support, and how families, caregivers, and the public can help and care for older adults.
Better Access to Resources: It is essential to ensure that there are easily accessible and affordable mental health services for older adults to make use of. These services should be inclusive to older adults regardless of their socioeconomic status or their location.
Supportive Communities: Older adults are also a part of communities even if their interactions and contributions may be reduced, hence, creating communities that are age-friendly and that facilitate social engagement and inclusion for older adults can be a great way to improve and support their mental well-being.
Geriatric mental health and well-being are often overlooked but their care is equally important and deserves attention. As we navigate an ageing population, we must address the challenges and issues experienced by this demographic, promote and provide better access to mental health care for them, and break the stigma around geriatric mental health to create and enhance the quality of life and ensure that they receive the care and support that is needed.