A Look At Mental Illness

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Underdiagnosed and Undertreated: A Look at Mental Illness in the Elderly
Kourtney Bercheni
American Public University System

Mental health as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) is “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, work productivity and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to the community” (Chaves, et al., 2014). Mental health in the elderly is a growing concern. Many elderly do not seek or receive proper treatment for their mental illness. This is, in part, due to several barriers that prohibit the elderly from seeking help. Mental illness in the elderly is brought up by several different factors, including
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Mental illness is often detected in the elderly when an additional illness is present. These illnesses can included cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and physical illnesses such as muscular dystrophy. Mental illness in elderly patients is often found in those who are suffering from a chronic illness or a cognitive impairment (Alexopoulos, 2005). This, however, does not imply only those that have a previous illness are subject to a mental illness. Mental illnesses can also arise from factors other than a previous illness. Many elderly have others that help them around the house. Theses caregivers can be family members, friends, or employees through an organization. During their time working with their elderly patient, the caregiver may feel a sense of burden come over them. This in turn, will take a toll on the elderly person as they may feel responsible for the caregiver’s overall sense of well-being. Caregivers can experience two types of burden: objective, a disruption in lifestyle, and subjective, the emotional reactions towards caregiving (Hoyer & Roodin, 2009). Objective caregiver burden is most commonly found associated to the mental well-being of the elderly person.
The elderly may also develop a mental illness associated with coping. The coping may be brought on by dealing with a physical or mental issues, the burden of having someone look after
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