Mental Health in the Aging Community
Individuals 65 and older represent the fastest growing age group in America. In Pennsylvania, one out of every five residents is over the age of 60 with 10 to 28% having behavioral health problems that warrant intervention. Additionally, suicide rates among the elderly are higher than other age groups. The leading cause of attempted suicide is depression coupled with alcohol and/or drug use or abuse, serious illness, social isolation, and limited support.
In many cases, the older adult may be unable to recognize the need for behavioral health treatment or support. This need is often identified by neighbors, local police or family members and does not always reach the level of involuntary intervention by authorities, although that may happen at times. It is critical that community members work together to identify and assist this growing population with their specific needs.