Depression has significant long-lasting emotional effects on older adults; therefore, strong social support for the aged should be in place. Social support reduces the risk of developing depression and increases their physical and mental health. This can consequently extend their life. Several social care policies and strategies exist in caring for the old. Health providers are trained and prepared to handle the diverse needs of the elderly. They are trained in the management and prevention of age-related chronic diseases. Also, health providers develop age-friendly services that are easy for the elderly to access and consume. Also, the care providers manage mental and substance use disorders that may arise among the elderly.
Another strategy is health promotion for the elderly. There are measures employed to improve the mental health of the elderly through Active and Healthy Ageing that involves the implementation of Mental health-based health promotion that involves creating living conditions that allow the elderly to live a comfortable life. In support of this measure, the elderly are provided with adequate housing through the supportive housing policy. The measures also look at the prevention of elder abuse by caregivers and other members of society. There is prompt identification and management of mental and substance use disorders in the elderly. Early detection of depression symptoms ensures early and optimal control of the condition. Accompanying physical illnesses that may worsen the disease are also identified and managed.
The World Health Organization also has put in place policies. WHO offers support to the government in the quest to promote mental health for older people. The World Health Assembly in 2016 adopted The Global Strategy and action plan on aging. The act aims at aligning the health systems to meet the physical and mental needs of the elderly. The act also ensures the establishment of affordable, high-quality mental health care for the elderly. This ensures that the elderly can get treatment for mental health problems such as depression without facing the barrier of expensive charges that they cannot afford. The drugs that they may need are made free or significantly subsidized.
Besides, The Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan for 2013-2020 is another policy that supports the elderly. The act is a commitment by all member states of WHO to implement policies that promote their people's mental wellbeing. The act proposes the provision of comprehensive mental health care in a community-based setup. It also strengthens research for mental health. These measures are put in place to eradicate the number of older adults that fall into depression in different countries. By implementing these measures in individual countries, the total caseload of the world's mental illnesses is reduced significantly. The WHO also has a Mental Health Gap Action. This initiative accounts for suicide, depression, epilepsy, psychoses, and drug use disorders with an aim to eradicate mental substance abuse disorders. The initiative provides resources to help develop health services in marginalized areas.
Medically, our society is taking several measures to address depressn among the elderly. Psychotherapy is being used to correct the behaviors and thoughts of older adults (Harvard Health Medical School 2020). Psychotherapy aims to remove the negative thoughts and memories in the mind of the elderly and expose them to more pleasant memories and activities. Psychotherapy also helps the patient develop skills that help them cope with problems. Psychotherapy is sometimes combined with medication for optimal results.
Socially the society has increased their care for the elderly. They have developed new ways of taking care of the elderly, for example, nursing homes. Older people who do not have caregivers are taken to the nursing homes they are taken good care of. Society has also grown more aware of elderly people's needs and are thus more sensitive to them. The elderly are an essential part of the community, so they should be well cared for. They are the embodiment of wisdom in society.
I have a personal connection with the issue of depression and older adults because I believe it is essential to take care of their mental health so that we can reduce the cases of depression. When these elderly fall into depression, it does not only affect them but also affects the other family members. Taking care of their mental health would help us ensure that they age comfortably, and we may also extend their life for some period.
In summary, depression is a mental health issue that is increasingly affecting both the youth and the older adults. The effect is however more profound for the elderly than the youth. The elderly people often fall into depression because of their loneliness, which is evident in the fact that their children are not close to them because they are busy with their jobs and other activities. The older adults are important members of society because they possess wisdom and they often come in handy in critical situations. Therefore, taking care of the elderly mental health should be among our list of priorities.
WHO, 2017. Mental Health Of Older Adults. [online] Who.int. Available at: <https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/mental-health-of-older-adults> [Accessed 6 December 2020].
Harvard Health Medical School, 2020. Recognizing And Treating Depression In The Elderly - Harvard Health. [online] Harvard Health. Available at: <https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/Recognizing_and_treating_depression_in_the_elderly> [Accessed 6 December 2020].
SAMSHA, 2011. The Treatment Of Depression In Older Adults. [online] Store.samhsa.gov. Available at: <https://store.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/d7/priv/sma11-4631-keyissues.pdf> [Accessed 6 December 2020].
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