2014-05-14 / Front Page

FREE mental health screenings

Older Americans Mental Health Week, May 12 - 16, encourages seniors and the community to become more aware of the importance of mental health in the older population.

Approximately 19 million Americans are affected by depression. Many feel depression is normal and should be expected during the aging process. However, that is false.

There are many factors other than aging that contribute to depression and other mental health issues among older Americans.

The following facts and statistics are designed to give insight into the effects of depression among older Americans.

Prevalence: More than two million of the 34 million Americans age 65 and older suffer from some form of depression.

Co-occurring Illnesses: Symptoms of clinical depression can be triggered by Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, heart disease, cancer, arthritis, etc.

Widowhood: One-third of widows/widowers meet criteria for depression in the first month after the death of their spouse. Half remain clinically depressed after one year.

Healthcare Costs: Older patients with symptoms of depression have 50 percent higher healthcare costs.

Suicide: Depression is a significant predictor of suicide, individuals aged 65 and older account for 20 percent of all suicide deaths. Suicide among white males 85 and older is nearly six times the suicide rate in the U.S.

Treatment: Over 55 percent of seniors treated for mental health received care from primary care physicians. Less than three percent received treatment from mental health professionals.

Primary care physicians accurately recognize less than one half of patients with depression.

Fortunately, more than 80 percent of all people with depression can be successfully treated with medication and/or psychotherapy. Older Adult Attitudes

According to a Mental Health America survey on attitudes and beliefs about clinical depression:

• Approximately 68 percent of adults aged 65 and over know little about depression.

• Only 38 percent of adults aged 65 and over believe that depression is a “health” problem.

• If suffering from depression, older adults are more likely than any other group to “handle it themselves.” Only 42 percent would seek help from a health professional.

Signs of depression are mentioned more frequently by people under age 64 than people aged 65 and over. These include a change in “eating habits,” “sleeping habits” and “sadness.”

About 58 percent of people aged 65 and older believe it is “normal” for people to get depressed as they grow older.

Free Screenings

Pioneer Community Hospital of Early will continue to offer free and confidential mental health screenings through the month of May. For more information or to schedule your screening, contact Penelope Hermsmeier, Intake Coordinator at 723-4525.

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