Four Mental Health Challenges Where Senior Living Can Help

January 1, 2022

Every individual who experiences aging is at risk of developing mental health issues as they deal with the loss of independence and functional strength. Some older adults are able to cope well while others find it difficult to come to terms with the changes. Many seniors are able to rediscover their lives after retirement by moving into a community. The guide below helps you understand the pain points your loved ones may encounter and discover several ways how a senior living community can promote healthy aging among senior adults.

Mental Health Challenge: Anxiety

Older adults suffer anxiety when they perceive the loss of independence. This is accompanied by the frustration of needing help and support from family and friends. This role reversal can make seniors feel anxious, particularly as they begin to adjust their mindset from being caregiver to that of a care recipient. In research published in the European Journal of General Practice, Geff McCombe observed that there was an 11.3% prevalence rate of anxiety among older adults over 55 years of age.

The most common anxiety disorder is Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Older adults with GAD have a feeling of hopelessness and constant worry. They may find it difficult to sleep or concentrate. Your loved one may begin to develop an irrational fear of a place, thing or event.  Adults who experience Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) feel the need to repeat actions to stay in control; and many experience Panic disorders or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD. While PTSD is caused by a traumatic event, panic disorders occur randomly with any trigger.

Signs & symptoms

  • Anxiety symptoms differ according to the type of disorder. Nonetheless, the common symptoms of anxiety disorder include–
  • Dizziness, fatigue or lightheadedness
  • Muscle pain and tension
  • Isolating themselves or detaching themselves from people and their surroundings.
  • Distorted sleeping pattern (either sleeping a lot or sleeping for lesser hours than needed to function properly).
  • Forgetfulness, irritability and panic.

How can senior living help?

Senior living community provides a senior connections to others that empowers them, often helping to overcome loneliness. Indeed, anxiety in older adults can be treated, and we recommend seeking medical help for serious concerns. That being said, senior living may help alleviate some of the fears surrounding the aging process by providing a sense of belonging and companionship.

Mental Health Challenge: Depression

Depression is one of the most undertreated and misdiagnosed disorders among older adults. This is because the symptoms may be mistaken for a reaction to an ailment, and this is a disadvantage when considering the reluctance of the older adults to undergo diagnosis or get treated. Expectedly, it reduces the quality of their lives and leaves them susceptible to suicidal thoughts.

It is a disorder in their mood accompanied by sadness, frustration, among other emotions which interferes with the ability of the older adults to carry out their daily activities. When life changes for a senior, the risk of depression increases; and sometimes, it is traceable to a physical illness such as stroke or Parkinson disease.

Signs & symptoms

Depression is common among older adults, but it is normal. It is important to identify the symptoms, which may include:

  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Change in appetite and sleep pattern
  • Isolation from social engagements and other activities
  • Feeling of unworthiness and guilt
  • Fatigue and loss of concentration

How can senior living help?

Senior living provides older adults a community to share their challenges with and they can draw strength from having the support of individuals and family that surrounds them. The senior living community also enables the older adult to renew their purpose and regain interest in activities that promote their emotional and mental health.

Mental Health Challenge: Substance Abuse 

It is not unusual to have older adults resort to drugs and alcohol as a way of coping with the changes around them. Older adults often feel a loss of meaning as they approach the later stage in their lives. Hence, they take substances to ease the pain or suffering while some take it for medical reasons but in excessive doses. The most commonly abused substance is alcohol. Substance abuse exposes the older adults to liver disease, high blood pressure, among other bad medical conditions. Undoubtedly, it however remains one of the least detectable challenges in older adults.  

Signs & symptoms

It may seem that the symptoms in the mental disorders are similar but again, there are slight differences in the signs exhibited by each individual. This is sometimes traceable to their personality, physiological make-up or environment. For substance abuse, the symptoms are as follows:

  • Changes in hygiene
  • Irritability and aggression towards others 
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Changes in job performance, including absenteeism, poor decision-making.
  • Dramatic weight loss

How can senior living help?

This can create a comfortable space for the older adults to discuss their challenges with their peers. The staff base are also equipped to identify symptoms and intervene by offering professional help to persons struggling with mental or emotional challenges as they evolve in age.

Mental Health Challenge: Isolation / Loneliness

Older adults tend to withdraw from associations and sometimes this is driven by the fear of losing their friends to death. Loneliness is the feeling of being alone even when surrounded with people. This sometimes could be tied to their feeling of not being understood by their loved ones or families. It increases the risk of depression and Dementia among other mental health conditions. Hence, community is paramount to the mental well-being of older adults.

Signs & symptoms

  • Insomnia fragmented and restless sleep
  • Lack of appetite
  • Body aches and pain
  • Inability to focus 
  • Feeling of anxiety or restlessness

How can senior living help?

When older adults are alone it is easier to slip into loneliness or isolation. On the other hand, senior living makes social engagements a priority. It provides the older adults an opportunity to share common interests, and that curbs the feeling of loneliness and isolation.

Why a PLC Community is right for you!

Priority life care communities are committed to you and your loved ones. We provide a safe, worry-free place to live that contributes to a life of happiness.  

When you observe any change in the behavior of your loved ones, it is important to seek any help and/or resources they may need. The care given is unique to you and your loved one’s needs, including caring and attentive staff as well as on-site visits from medical providers. 

Our Life Enrichment Center features the body “physical” enrichment that helps your loved ones improve their balance, strength, and mobility. Priority Life Care communities give your loved ones access to fitness classes where they engage in aerobics, yoga, and other workout programs to boost their mood, concentration and overall physical health.

The soul “self” enrichment program in our communities provide opportunities for your loved ones to practice self-care and help build a sense of purpose. We support this practice through our club activities and group engagements that make it easier for your loved ones to continue living a fulfilled life. 

The mind “intellectual” enrichment programs exercise the brain to boost memory and increase independence. The hosting of book clubs and educational speakers help to stimulate the brain, and reduce the possibility of mental challenges, helping your loved one who may struggle with depression, anxiety or other challenges.

Visit our Find a Community page to find a community near you that not only fosters a family-like environment, but equips you and your loved ones with the necessary tools to embrace the changes and struggle that may, but don’t always have to, come with aging. To find the nearest PLC community, go to you are yet to decide whether senior care is right for your family, and want to reach more, check out the rest of our blog series here,

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