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When it comes to getting older, there are a lot of moving parts in the health care puzzle. The one piece many are missing—or simply overlooking—is a mental health management plan. Right now, 20 percent of adults over the age of 60 are suffering from a mental or neurological disorder. That is why mental health advocacy is now leading the health care conversation in the aging community.
“The biggest falsehood is that cognitive decline—or cognitive impairment—is a normal part of aging. It’s not. Some mental health conditions do coincide with aging, but many exist simply because they have gone without proper treatment. From dementia to depression, these mental health illnesses may be treatable if diagnosed early,” said Megan James, LCSW, Social Services and Behavioral Wellness Manager at Inspira LIFE.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the most common mental health issues aging adults experience are anxiety, severe cognitive impairment, and mood disorders like depression and bipolar disorder. And sadly, the CDC also states that older men have the highest suicide rate, now at 45.23 per 100,000 men aged 85 or older.
“The most devastating part about these statistics is that many people, despite living with these treatable conditions, do not have access to the emotional and clinical support they need—the support that prevents these illnesses from becoming chronic, debilitating conditions,” said James. “For example, depression is often overlooked and undiagnosed because its symptoms often present in concert with other conditions that aging adults begin to experience. But we can do better.”
The best way to connect aging adults with the mental health resources they need is by creating awareness.
“One of the biggest obstacles is getting people to understand that mental health care is a part of not only your daily life, but also part of your life-long health care plan. Especially for our aging residents, mental health care is more important than ever,” said Eric Warden, MS, LPC, CADDCT, Supervisor of Clinical Services for Behavioral Wellness at Inspira LIFE. “We need to flip the script here. Mental health is a part of primary care health. And people cannot go without it.”
With Inspira LIFE—Living Independently for Elders—aging South Jersey residents can continue to lead the independent lives they need and deserve thanks to having a dedicated, experienced health care team including doctors, nurses and mental health professionals. An all-inclusive, multidisciplinary program, Inspira LIFE provides participants with:
“Inspira LIFE handles more than the medical side of aging, they also help with scheduling transportation, managing prescriptions and even encouraging an active social life with planned group activities,” said Warden. “Managing health is a life-long endeavor. Not everything can be chalked up to ‘aging.’ If you or someone you know needs a little extra personalized care, you’re not alone. We’re here to help.”
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