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DOES THE JOURNEY OF LIFE GET DIFFICULT WITH AGE?

The whole concept of mental health evolves with age. The mental well-being of older persons is an essential and multidimensional part of senior care, characterised by a complex interaction of psychological, social, and biological variables. Individuals have distinct obstacles as they age, which can have an influence on their mental health and make them more vulnerable to disorders like sadness, anxiety, and cognitive loss. This introduction delves into these issues, using research findings to shed light on the various mental well-being concerns the elderly encounter. The voices of older adults who have navigated through mental health issues and systems of care to arrive at psychological treatment are less well understood (Reynolds et al., 2020). 


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  1. Biological Factors: Aging is associated with changes in the brain, including a decline in neurotransmitter function and alterations in brain structure. These changes can contribute to cognitive decline and an increased risk of mental health disorders such as dementia and depression (Gatz et al., 2005). Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise and a balanced diet, can positively impact cognitive function in older adults (Lautenschlager et al., 2008).

  2. Psychological Factors: Life transitions, such as retirement, loss of loved ones, or chronic health conditions, can significantly impact mental well-being in older adults. Coping with these changes may lead to feelings of isolation, loneliness, or a sense of purposelessness (Wang et al., 2018). Engaging in activities that provide a sense of purpose and social connection, such as volunteering or joining community groups, can mitigate the negative psychological impact of life transitions (Anderson et al., 2014).

  3. Social Factors: Social isolation is prevalent among older adults, particularly those living alone or with limited social networks. Loneliness has been linked to poor mental health outcomes, including depression and anxiety (Cacioppo et al., 2006). Encouraging older adults to maintain social connections through regular interactions with friends, family, or community activities is crucial for combating social isolation (Findlay, 2003).

  4. Stigma and Barriers to Accessing Care: Older adults may face stigma related to mental health, which can hinder their willingness to seek help. Additionally, logistical barriers, such as limited transportation or financial constraints, may impede access to mental health services (Conner et al., 2010). Community outreach programs and awareness campaigns can help reduce stigma while providing affordable and accessible mental health services can address logistical barriers (Karel et al., 2012).


social factors in the geriatric population

Addressing older persons' mental health difficulties necessitates an extensive strategy that takes into account the interactions of psychological, social, and biological aspects. Interventions should prioritise supporting healthy lifestyles, strengthening social ties, and lowering obstacles to mental health care. By employing these measures, we can improve the mental and physical well-being of the elderly population. Optimal care of older adults with mental disorders is both patient-focused and family-centred. We call for further research into enhancing the well-being of family caregivers (Reynolds et al., 2022).


One of the most popular models for ensuring the well-being of the geriatric population is the All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). This model emerged in the 1970s in the US. This model ensures that the geriatric population stays intact with their community while attending home care. This model has a holistic approach, which looks after their needs and health and caters to their social well-being. The PACE program's primary goals are to maximise each frail elderly participant's autonomy and continued community residence and to provide quality care at a lower cost than Medicare, Medicaid, and private-pay participants who pay in the traditional fee-for-service system (Mui et al., 2002). In order to meet the requirements for PACE, an individual must be above 55 years. The model holistically fosters a sense of community and belonging as all the participants spend the day at PACE health centres, which care for their physical and mental health and therapies. One of the major positives of this model is that it also provides home visits for those participants who prefer to stay in their houses. This model ensures the availability of multidisciplinary health care under one roof. Everyone is present in the PACE health care centre, from a therapist to a physician.



support and care for old people

To truly support older individuals' mental health, it is critical to recognise the interdependence of these psychological, social, and biological elements. The most effective approach will be holistic and person-centred, combining healthcare, psychological, and community-based interventions. Incorporating these ideas into healthcare regulations and processes can assist in establishing an environment that promotes older persons' well-being by addressing their specific mental wellness needs thoroughly and compassionately. As society prioritises mental health in the senior population, it becomes an ethical responsibility to ensure a decent and meaningful later life rather than a healthcare requirement.


REFERENCES
  1. Anderson, N. D., Damianakis, T., Kröger, E., Wagner, L. M., Dawson, D. R., Binns, M. A., ... & Cook, S. L. (2014). The benefits associated with volunteering among seniors: A critical review and recommendations for future research. Psychological Bulletin, 140(6), 1505-1533.

  2. Cacioppo, J. T., Hughes, M. E., Waite, L. J., Hawkley, L. C., & Thisted, R. A. (2006). Loneliness as a specific risk factor for depressive symptoms: Cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses. Psychology and Aging, 21(1), 140-151.

  3. Conner, K. O., Copeland, V. C., Grote, N. K., Koeske, G., Rosen, D., Reynolds III, C. F., ... & Brown, C. (2010). Mental health treatment seeking among older adults with depression: the impact of stigma and race. The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 18(6), 531-543.

  4. Findlay, R. A. (2003). Interventions to reduce social isolation amongst older people: Where is the evidence? Ageing & Society, 23(5), 647-658.

  5. Gatz, M., Reynolds, C. A., Fratiglioni, L., Johansson, B., Mortimer, J. A., Berg, S., ... & Pedersen, N. L. (2005). Role of genes and environments for explaining Alzheimer's disease. Archives of General Psychiatry, 62(3), 259-266.

  6. Karel, M. J., Gatz, M., Smyer, M. A., & Dong, L. (2012). The Predictors of Stigma Against Older Adults with Dementia: A Longitudinal Study. The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 67(6), 687-696.

  7. Lautenschlager, N. T., Cox, K. L., Flicker, L., Foster, J. K., van Bockxmeer, F. M., Xiao, J., ... & Almeida, O. P. (2008). Effect of physical activity on cognitive function in older adults at risk for Alzheimer's disease: a randomised trial. JAMA, 300(9), 1027-1037.

  8. Reynolds, K., Medved, M., Mackenzie, C. S., Funk, L. M., & Koven, L. (2020). Older adults’ narratives of seeking mental health treatment: making sense of mental health challenges and “muddling through” to care. Qualitative Health Research, 30(10), 1517–1528.

  9. Wang, J., Mann, F., Lloyd-Evans, B., Ma, R., & Johnson, S. (2018). Associations between loneliness and perceived social support and outcomes of mental health problems: a systematic review. BMC Psychiatry, 18(1), 156.

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