May 24, 2018

Mental Health in Older Adults

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and mental health is a subject we all should visit from time to time, no matter your age.  According to, more than two million of the 34 million Americans age 65 and older suffer from some form of depression.

Depression is not a normal part of aging, but it can occur when other physical health conditions are present.  Nearly a quarter of people who experience a stroke in a given year will experience clinical depression.  Sometimes symptoms of depression can be overlooked and untreated when they coincide with other medical illnesses or life events that commonly occur as people age.

  • One third of widows/widowers meet criteria for depression in the first month after the death of their spouse, and half of these individuals remain clinically depressed after one year.
  • Suicide among white males aged 85 and older is nearly six times the suicide rate in the US.
  • Primary care physicians accurately recognize less than one half of patients with depression, resulting in potentially decreased function and increased length of hospitalization.

Fortunately, clinical depression is a very treatable illness.  More than 80% of all people with depression can be successfully treated with medication, psychotherapy or a combination of both.

For more information, visit, the National Institute of Mental Health at, or see your doctor for treatment.

If you are suicidal or have suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.