America is aging. The number of Americans aged 65 and older is expected to more than double by 2060, and the 65-plus age group’s share of the total population will rise to nearly 24 percent from currently 15 percent. The challenges and opportunities involved in this trend were the focus of a recent presentation by nurses Amy Zellers and Elisha Miller, and psychiatrist Norriece Gibson as part of the Williamsburg Place Lecture Series.
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Alzheimer's is a brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking, and reasoning skills. An estimated 5.8 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease (AD). By mid-century, the number of people living with Alzheimer's dementia is projected to grow to almost 14 million in the United States, fueled in large part by aging baby boomers. AD is already the sixth leading cause of death in the US.
Regular exercise and physical activity are important to the physical and mental health of almost everyone, including older adults. Being physically active can help you continue to do the things you enjoy and stay independent as you age.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, bipolar disorder affects more than 5.7 million adults in the United States each year—that’s about 3 percent of the population. The typical age of onset is the late teens or early twenties, and a history of depression is common in people diagnosed with bipolar.
The early onset means that a lot of research is focused on young people. In about 10 percent of patients with bipolar disorder, however, the illness develops after the age of 50, and 5 percent of admissions to geropsychiatric inpatient units are for bipolar disorder.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved a new prescription-only nasal spray for use against treatment-resistant depression. Fast-acting Spravato is for use in conjunction with an oral antidepressant in adults with treatment-resistant depression, notes the FDA.
“The current growth of the population ages 65 and older is one of the most significant demographic trends in the history of the United States,” according to the Population Reference Bureau. “The number of Americans ages 65 and older is projected to more than double from 46 million today to over 98 million by 2060, and the 65-and-older age group’s share of the total population will rise to nearly 24 percent from 15 percent.”
It is quite common for older adults to experience multiple health problems requiring a battery of medications. Mobility and agility may be compromised and many seniors report reduced social and emotional support—even isolation. That is why many people assume that getting older also entails a certain amount of depression. Since sadness is expected with advanced age, actual depression is often overlooked and untreated.
One in four older Americans experiences some mental disorder including depression, anxiety disorders, and dementia, according to the National Council on Aging. NCOA does not expect the situation to improve any time soon. “This number is expected to double to 15 million by 2030.”
It can be difficult to differentiate between the effects of mental illness and dementia in senior citizens. Misdiagnosis is common between the two conditions because of their similar signs and symptoms, such as confusion and mood swings.
There has been a lot of praise for Lady Gaga’s brief remarks at the Grammy Awards. The pop star received the award for best pop duo/group performance for the song "Shallow" from the movie A Star Is Born, and she used the opportunity to talk about mental health and the importance of seeking help.