Senior's Emotional Health

Senior's Emotional Health

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    A Geriatrics Nursing, answered on behalf of

    A long time ago I read somewhere that people don't get miserable when they age, they just get more of what they already were. Nice people don't magically turn into cranky old curmudgeons. If they do, chances are they always were brusque, sharp, and impatient. Now they simply do not have the emotional fortitude to cover it up as well. Hence, a curmudgeon!

    When otherwise perfectly nice people do change into cranky, aggressive uncontrollable combatants, magic is not involved. It's time to look for a reason. Many exist; dementia, pharmaceutical interactions, brain tumor, etc. A thorough physical will start the investigation rolling. 

    Elder abuse could account for behavior changes as well and could be gently and properly investigated at the same time. If the elder is in a home, there will be procedures in place to follow. The majority of staff members are not abusive so approach the investigation objectively. 

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    A Alternative & Complementary Medicine, answered on behalf of
    A pet can benefit a lonely senior in several ways. Because a person’s oxytocin level rises when he or she has a pet, and because oxytocin is the hormone responsible for bonding with others, seniors are more apt to experience a sense of bonding in general if they have a pet. Additionally, a lonely senior with a pet, let’s say a dog, would be more likely to socialize with others who share a common interest in dogs.
    Owning a pet can also give seniors a greater sense of family. According to one study, 81 percent of families with a dog consider the dog to be a family member, allowing the dog to sleep on the same bed and giving their dog left-overs from their own meals. Also, nearly 100 percent of pet owners talk to their pet, which for a senior can help to reduce loneliness.
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    You can prevent depression after you retire by taking steps to maintain your self-esteem. Self-esteem tends to drop steadily beginning at retirement. Declining self-esteem may contribute to higher stress levels and a higher likelihood of depression. If you’re an older adult who has experienced a loss of self-esteem in recent years, these confidence-building activities can help:
    • Meet new people. Good friends make you feel loved and appreciated, which increases your sense of self-worth.
    • Learn something new. Is there something you’ve always wanted to do but never had the chance to? Perhaps it’s studying a foreign language or learning how to use a computer. Developing new skills helps your mind stay sharp.
    • Stay informed. Whether it’s world events or just what’s going on in your friends’ lives, staying up to date on the latest news increases your sense of connection and empathy.
    • Maintain your muscles. Go on walks every day to strengthen your muscles and improve balance. By preserving your mobility, you can enjoy living independently -- a major factor in self-esteem.
    Trinity Health is a Catholic health care organization that acts in accordance with the Catholic tradition and does not condone or support all practices covered in this site. In case of emergency call 911. This site is educational and not a substitute for professional medical advice, always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider.
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    A , Geriatric Medicine, answered
    Seniors often have drinking problems or are alcoholics, but the signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse in the elderly may be difficult to recognize and are often attributed to other causes associated with aging. Seniors also often hide the signs of their alcoholism from their families.

    Some signs of alcoholism in seniors include drinking and driving, passing out, mood changes, and continuing to drink despite health complications and potential dangers. Other warning signs of alcoholism among elders include frequent falls, confusion, and self-neglect.
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    A
    A Geriatrics Nursing, answered on behalf of

    Theft and fraud top the list of financial abuses for those over 65 years of age. Financial abuse can happen even though the senior is comparatively competent and living in their own home. Con men don't exist because people are stupid. They exist because they are very good at fooling people.

    The classic example is the doting very elderly man with the sweet young thing who's after his money. She is not defined as an abuser. He doesn't feel abused - maybe. But the children certainly are quick to point out that their own - oops! - their father's financial interests are being abused. We have laughed at this old joke for decades. It’s funny as long as it isn't real. Maybe with the advent of 'cougars' the joke will have to switch genders!

    On a day-to-day basis in real life, it's the bullying or manipulating grandchild who talks the elder into giving them money or family treasures for some fabricated reason. Or, it could be the "I really don't want to look for a job any more" adult child who moves in and lives off Mom or Dad on a pension. Potentially, it could be a flim-flam house repair artist at the front door. 

    Whatever the circumstance that leads the senior to lose monetary viability, it should be investigated and rectified as soon as and as much as possible. Seniors are no longer in a position to re-make the money they have spent a life time accumulating. 

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    A , Internal Medicine, answered
    If you are single, evaluate your social ties to avoid becoming alone in old age. Do they provide you with support and help? Single people need to make sure that they have adequate social support from family or friends. Many people find themselves "suddenly single" as they enter their fifties and sixties, due either to the death of a long-term partner or to an "empty-nest divorce," a divorce that happens once the kids have left home. If you are in this situation, seek out other avenues of social support. The friendships you find will help keep you younger, and maybe your friends will introduce you to your second "partner of a lifetime."
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    A , Caregiving, answered
    If a loved one loses weight, sleeps poorly and seems unhappy, you should definitely take these changes seriously. The symptoms described could be signs of depression. Depression is a medical illness and is nothing to be ashamed of. Many seniors are prone to depression as they have many losses in their lives – family, friends, etc. I would encourage her to talk about her feelings as this can help her understand why she is feeling this way. It is also important that she sees a physician who can ascertain if she’s clinically depressed.
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    A , Geriatric Medicine, answered

    If you feel that there may be evidence of elder abuse it is important to call 911 immediately or call the elder abuse hotline at 1-800-677-1116 so that action can be taken to protect the victim.

    Some of the most common signs that physical abuse is occurring are bruises, welts, unusual skin tears, and burns. Most common signs of emotional abuse are a sudden loss of interest in activities and hobbies. The signs of sexual abuse can include bruises or lesions around the genitals. Signs of financial abuse include a sudden inability to pay for the necessities, when they were able to before. Neglect towards an elder is best identified by poor hygiene, weight loss and bedsores. 

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    A , Health Education, answered

    In numerous studies, loneliness (especially in the elderly) has been shown to have a significant impact on an individual's health and wellness in addition to their feeling valued or loved. Relationships with pets has increased dramatically over the last 10 years in the U.S. Pets can eliminate the sense of being "alone" or lonely and have proven to have healing effects on individuals of all ages and all stages of illness. Many nursing homes and assisted living facilities now use "therapy" dogs that visit the residents and give them the unconditional caring that animals often seem to do better than other humans.

    Even our relationships with plants can help us to feel less alone and caring for them provides a sense of purposeful work and fulfillment. In one study, nursing home residents were given house plants to care for versus those who were given plants but did not care for them. The study showed that having a relationship with the plant as well as a sense of purpose by taking care of the plant, made a significant change in the resident's health index and vital signs, which includes blood pressure and pulse and sleep. For more information on the topic of relationships and health, get a free download at www.changingbehavior.org.

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    A , Adolescent Medicine, answered

    There are many medical problems that seniors may be experiencing as they age. They are simply anxious about going to the doctor's office because of the fear of the unknown, such as the confirmation of an incurable disease, terminal illness, or feeling of embarrassment due to specific medical conditions, such as issues with incontinence, etc. The issues about possible medical complications from necessary procedures as well as the care and changes of lifestyle can be overwhelming to your elderly parents.

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