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5 Signs of Mental Illness Among Older People and How to Help Them

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Mental well-being is important for people of all age groups. However, when a person grows old, they become more vulnerable to mental health issues.

That’s why the people around them need to be more active and careful regarding their mental health.

And to make that easy for you, here we are discussing five signs of mental illnesses in elderly people. Apart from that, we’ll also talk about how you can help old people showing any of these signs.

Change of dressing style

Yes, this change isn’t an evident sign of altering mental health only among teenagers. Older people suffering from a lack of self-esteem and self-confidence may also bring dramatic changes to their dressing styles and overall appearance.

If an older person in your family starts showing such signs, make sure you uplift them emotionally. Your kind and warm words to make them feel accepted and appreciated the way they are can boost their confidence.

This will also keep them from feeling insecure about themselves and their appearance.

Sudden change of weight

In many cases, a sudden change of weight or loss or gain of appetite can be a subtle sign that the person is dealing with a mental illness.

Generally eating more or less than their normal diet can be a part of their coping mechanism.

While some people eat more to distract themselves from the problems and issues in life, others may start eating less as they may be lost in their thoughts. In both cases, it’s important to be there for your loved ones.

Feelings of guilt and indulging in self-loathing

Guilt is a strong feeling that holds power to weaken a person emotionally. Feelings of immense guilt and remorse associated with past events can often create disturbing experiences during a person’s older years.

Also, when they are living alone, they may even indulge in self-blaming and loathing for everything that ever went wrong in their life. This can often initiate an endless cycle of overthinking and restlessness, giving rise to feelings of worthlessness coupled with suicidal thoughts in extreme cases.

The best we can do to help people in such situations is to hear them out and be there for them. You can also ask them to help you with something or the other. Your trust in them will surely make them feel better about themselves.

Social disinterest

Cutting off from the social circle is another sign that your older loved one may be suffering from a mental illness.

Many times this happens when a person starts losing confidence around people. Or when they start feeling that the world may turn up against them. This may also happen as a result of the feelings of worthlessness.

In such cases, it’s best not to push the person, but give them a feeling of assurance that they can lean on to you when they need to.


Skipping sleep is one of the worst things that an old person can do to harm their health. But many times, sleep deprivation is not in the hands of the people dealing with it. This starts with problems like overthinking and may end up disturbing the biology of that person to certain extents.

When you notice that an older person is not getting enough sleep, it’d be better to get in touch with a psychiatrist. Qualified psychiatrists in NY can help cure problems associated with sleeping.

Wrapping up

Mental illnesses in old age can turn out to be difficult to cope up with. To help our loved ones improve their mental health, it’s important for us to closely notice whether they are showing any signs of mental illness or not. 


Image credit: Freepik

Peter Wallace has been an advocate for mental health awareness for years. He holds a master’s degree in counselling from the University of Edinburgh.

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