The Canadian government is teaming with the country’s largest retail pharmacy chain and a senior health group to combat the growing problem of under-treated senior mental health issues. The purpose of the initiative is to distribute reliable information to seniors, their caregivers, medical providers, and pharmacists as part of a collective effort to recognize possible signs of mental illnesses like depression that tend to be more common among seniors than most people realize.
Recognizing Signs of Depression in Seniors
A major part of the new initiative includes making reliable, updated information easily accessible and available to seniors and their loved ones. Brochures detailing how to spot signs of anxiety, depression, and suicidal tendencies in seniors will be available at Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacies and online. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, symptoms of depression in seniors may include:
- Losing interest in previously enjoyable activities
- Focusing more on aches and pains and other complaints
- Increasing difficulty concentrating on activities or conversations
Encouraging Early Evaluation and Treatment
Untreated depression can contribute to seniors’ health issues, often making if more difficult to recover from illnesses and surgeries. It’s hoped that the initiative will educate in-home caregivers on how to recognize signs of a mental health issues at a time when treatment is most likely to be successful. Treatment typically includes:
- Adjusting existing medications or prescribing new medications since some medications may contribute to depression and anxiety
- Encouraging participation in group activities to combat depression related to loneliness and increasing isolation
- New ways of engaging with seniors experiencing depression related to dementia or chronic conditions
- Psychological counseling for both caregivers and their senior loved ones
The Seniors’ Mental Health Initiative came about due to growing concerns that mental issues among seniors are often dismissed as either a normal part of aging or as symptoms of dementia. Officials behind the program want to increase awareness of the problem by making reliable information readily available to seniors, loved ones, and healthcare professionals so that treatment can begin as soon as possible.
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