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Older people's mental health should be key priority

Older people's mental health should be key priority
23rd February 2016

A report published by the Mental Health Taskforce last week (February 15th) emphasised the importance of improving services across the UK.

In particular, it focused on the need to boost the amount of care to support people in their teens and young adults, as it is well-documented that many mental health illnesses start at this age.

However, Age UK has highlighted the importance of not forgetting the problems that older people often experience with mental health.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said she was pleased to see the creation of the Mental Health Taskforce and its release of the report.

Older people's mental health should be given the attention it "urgently needs", she warned, with more than a fifth of men (22 per cent) and nearly a third (28 per cent) of women over 65 living with depression.

In care homes, it is estimated that up to 40 per cent of residents experience some form of depression, though there are very real concerns for the number of elderly people in the community who may be suffering from mental health problems without anyone being aware of it.

"We know that the risk factors for depression tend to increase as we get older - bereavement, poor physical health and loneliness can all lead to depression but too many older people living with mental illness remain ignored or neglected and all too often are told, quite incorrectly, that it is just part of the ageing process," Ms Abrahams explained.

She said getting the right experts to support the right people, with efficiency and compassion, was crucial, regardless of their age.

The report from the Mental Health Taskforce found that too many people are not getting the support they need, with services falling short or many not receiving any help at all.

It also highlights the impact this can have on physical health, with people who suffer with severe and prolonged mental illness at risk of dying on average between 15 and 20 years earlier than other people.

Find the nearest Barchester care home.