How to Start a Mental Health Dialogue with an Older Adult

Tips for talking to a senior about mental health

Today, mental health is at the forefront of everyone's minds. Unfortunately, older generations were raised to keep quiet about any mental health struggles and continue on with life without showing any signs of weakness. It's understandable that an older adult may feel reluctant to being open and honest about struggling mentally.

The COVID-19 crisis took a huge toll on every individual's mental and physical health. Considering older adults were very at-risk and vulnerable to the disease, they may have experienced emotions and feelings they have never felt before. It's time to talk about mental health and get everyone the help they deserve.

Here are a few tips on starting a mental health conversation with an older adult:
mask talk- older adult mental health dialogue

1. Educate yourself. Learn the facts about mental health and older adults to share as scientific proof to your older loved one who may not want to accept their struggles. Research has shown that older adults who have major health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, etc., are more likely to suffer from depression.

2. Be respectful. Since many older adults equate depression and anxiety with signs of weakness, bringing up the topic of mental health may come off disrespectful in their eyes. It's important to share your concerns without belittling your loved one or automatically diagnosing them. Create a conversation, encourage questions, and be patient.

3. Encourage seeking professional help. While listening and offering advice is a great start, seeking outside resources and professional help is the next step to getting your loved one the help they need. Look into healthcare providers, therapists, psychiatrists, support groups, etc. for your loved one to make it even easier for them to accept the help. If your loved one lives in an assisted living community, reach out to see what services they offer.

If you suspect an friend or family member is suffering from mental health issues, Acenda offers specific counseling services to support the unique needs of older adults.

Call our main number at 844-4-ACENDA (844-422-3632 x9500) for more information or to schedule an appointment.