The Golden Years & Mental Health

Available with English captions and subtitles in Spanish.

Oftentimes as folks age, physical health concerns tend to overshadow mental health concerns. However, mental illnesses are common in older populations—and several studies have suggested that depression and anxiety are just as common as, if not more than, dementia later in life.

Coupled with growing research in older adult mental health is an increased interest in promoting positive mental health for adults to flourish in their golden years. So how can we ensure that older adults—including ourselves—have improved mental well-being throughout the life span? And how does technology factor into caring for our own mental health or our loved ones’ mental health?

Audience Questions

Dr. Ipsit Vahia discusses ways to improve mental well-being in older populations, highlights research about technology’s role in mental flourishing, and answers audience questions about how we and our loved ones can truly enjoy the golden years.

  • If I wasn’t dedicating attention to my mental health when I was younger, why should I do so when I’m older?
  • What are some of the mental illnesses that commonly occur in older populations?
  • How have older adults fared during the pandemic?
  • Are the common causes of depression and anxiety in older adults different than those in younger adults?
  • With aging comes a lot of change and loss that can be difficult to cope with. How can we navigate these life changes and handle the emotions that come along with them?
  • When I speak with younger people, they sometimes feel as if they have a lack of purpose or feel lost. As a geriatric psychiatrist, when you interact with older adults, do you see similar responses, or do they tend to have a more positive outlook?
  • How has connectedness through technology helped with the mental health of older adults?
  • What do you think is one of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to older adults and technology use?
  • Do you have any suggestions around addressing and encouraging independence in older adult populations?
  • Please speak about ways to support seniors after a fall. How do we help them stay in good spirits?
  • What are some of the signs that I should be on the lookout for in myself or my loved ones that may be an indicator of a change in mental health?
  • Is spirituality often incorporated into treatment? Do faith and spirituality have a role in the mental well-being of older adults?
  • Due to the potential onset of mental health challenges during our later years of life, how often should older adults be in communication with their primary care physician? How can they bring up mental health with their care team?
  • Do you have any suggestions for those of us who are sleeping poorly?
  • Do you find that technology has helped destigmatize mental health in older populations?
  • Please suggest resources for older adults who want to become more tech savvy!

Resources

You may also find this information useful:

Find all of McLean’s resources on older adult mental health.

About Dr. Vahia

Ipsit Vahia, MD, is a geriatric psychiatrist, clinician, and researcher. He is the medical director of the Geriatric Psychiatry Outpatient Services at McLean Hospital and the McLean Institute for Technology in Psychiatry. He is also the director of the Technology and Aging Laboratory.

Dr. Vahia serves on the American Psychiatric Association (APA) Council on Geriatric Psychiatry and the Geriatric Psychiatry Committee of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.

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