According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), older adults (those aged 60 plus) make important contributions to society in a number of ways including as family members, volunteers and as active participants in the workforce. While most have good mental health, many older adults are at risk of developing mental disorders, neurological disorders or substance use problems as well as other health conditions such as diabetes, hearing loss, and osteoarthritis. Furthermore, as people age, they are more likely to experience several conditions at the same time.
The world’s population is ageing rapidly. Between 2015 and 2050, the proportion of the world's older adults is estimated to almost double from about 12% to 22%. In absolute terms, this is an expected increase from 900 million to 2 billion people over the age of 60. Older people face special physical and mental health challenges which need to be recognized.
Over 20% of adults – that’s one in five - aged 60 and over suffer from a mental or neurological disorder.
The most common mental health problems in this age group are dementia and depression.
Anxiety disorders affect almost 4% of the elderly population, substance use problems affect almost 1% and around a quarter of deaths from self-harm are among those aged 60 or above.
Substance abuse problems among the elderly are often overlooked or misdiagnosed.
Mental health problems are under-identified by health-care professionals and older people themselves, and the stigma surrounding mental illness makes people reluctant to seek help.
In addition to typical life stressors common to all people, many older adults lose their ability to live independently because of limited mobility, chronic pain, frailty or other mental or physical problems, and require some form of long-term care. In addition, older people are more likely to experience events such as bereavement, a drop in socioeconomic status with retirement, or a disability. All of these factors can result in isolation, loss of independence, loneliness and psychological distress.
Mental health has an impact on physical health and vice versa. For example, older adults with physical health conditions such as heart disease have higher rates of depression than those who are medically well. Conversely, untreated depression in an older person with heart disease can negatively affect the outcome of the physical disease.
Men’s Matters was established to help bring together older men to form friendships and take part in activities that contribute to their good health and well-being. Studies have shown that social interaction plays a vital role in aiding good mental and physical health. We are, after all, social beings, and isolation is not conducive to a fulfilling life.
Our programme of weekly drop-ins is intended to provide a platform for older men to come together, get to know each other in a friendly environment, and share in activities to learn new skills, pastimes or simply to have fun.
If you are concerned about the state of your own mental health, or of a friend or family member, then please make an appointment with your GP to discuss the symptoms and seek help and advice. The GP is the accepted starting point for health and care support in the UK. Alternatively, visit the following websites to find out more about mental health and the elderly:-
Men's Matters won the Team of the Year Award at the RBWM Voluntary Sector Awards in September 2017
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