Mental health is a common concern for those who live in care homes. From adjusting to a new environment to dealing with conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, maintaining good mental health can be difficult for many.
To understand and support the mental health needs of older adults who move into residential aged care, a mixed methods study was conducted. Staff participants from various departments, whose work involved managing or supporting residents’ transition into residential aged care, were interviewed. Their responses were compiled into three broad themes:
In long-term care homes, depression is a common, often untreated mental health condition. It is also linked with an increased risk of death from physical illnesses, such as heart disease.
Depressive symptoms occur in a variety of ways and can be related to a variety of factors, including the length of time in the home, the type of home and staff training and experience. However, no single factor has been found to be associated with a higher incidence of depression in any given care home.
Most of the depressive symptoms observed in care homes are situational depression, which generally responds well to clinical and pharmacological treatment. Chronic depression, on the other hand, can be long-lasting and often reflects a more in-depth character trait. It requires more intensive therapy and medication.
Anxiety is one of the most common mental health issues among care home residents. Whether it is anxiety due to medical problems, depression or a general feeling of dread, it can greatly affect a resident’s life and quality of living.
A study published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry states that 3.2 percent to 20 percent of individuals living in long-term care facilities suffer from anxiety. Fortunately, there are medications that can treat anxiety disorders.
Anxiety is a common problem among older people living in NHs and can be difficult to detect because it can mimic other conditions, such as poor health or mobility issues. This is why it is important to be able to recognize symptoms of anxiety in elderly care homes.
Depression is one of the most common health problems in older adults and may be a factor in residents’ poor quality of life. Depression is often diagnosed by a medical doctor, and medications such as antidepressants or cognitive behavioral therapy can be used to treat the condition.
Mood disorders can have serious consequences for residents’ health and quality of life, and may increase risk for death (Ashby et al. 1991; Rovner et al. 1991; Suominen et al. 2003).
The first step in addressing mood disorders is detection. This requires training of care home staff, particularly personal carers, to identify and refer residents for assessment and treatment. It also involves setting up a screening process and ensuring referral is linked to initiation of assessment and treatment.
There are many behavioral issues that can arise in care homes, especially among seniors with dementia. These range from wandering to sexually inappropriate behaviors to hoarding.
These behavior problems can be difficult for caregivers to manage. Often, they are the result of underlying medical, psychological or social conditions.
Behavioral assessment by a trained staff member can help to pinpoint the cause of a resident’s challenges. The assessment should include a psychiatric interview and a thorough medical and family history.
Once the cause of a resident’s behavior is known, staff can then work to address those needs and goals in a way that meets the resident’s specific personality. By doing so, they can effectively reduce the amount of challenging behavior.
Medications are an essential part of the treatment for many mental illnesses. They can help make therapy more effective, improve mood, reduce anxiety and improve sleep quality.
Several types of medication are used to treat these disorders, including antipsychotics, antidepressants and sleeping pills. It is important for nursing home staff to ensure that medications are being properly prescribed and given to the right patient at the right time.
The use of antipsychotic drugs in care homes has been a problem for years. Inappropriate use of these powerful psychiatric drugs has been linked to fatal falls and other serious health issues.