Old-Age and Mental Health

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feels, and act as we cope with life. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, including as we age. One becomes more sensitive and overwhelmed by situations as one reaches the age of 60 and above.

Many reasons lead to a negative change in mental health with the increase in age, Some of them are as follows -

Sudden death of loved one - According to the study from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia’s School of Social Work, and Harvard Medical School, the unexpected death of a loved one roughly doubled the risk for new-onset mania in people 30 and older. For people between the ages of 50 and 70, the risk increased more than fivefold, according to the researchers. While developing a psychiatric disorder for the first time in old age is relatively rare, the study’s finding indicate that the onset of a psychiatric disorder in older people is often associated with the death of a loved one, according to the researchers.

Retirement - Be it from job, household duties, business- retirement is a big disruption of routine for people i.e. a big change . The retired person who spent almost half of their lifetime performing a certain routine pattern might find the removal disheartening .One might face an identity crisis , in case work life defined them, or they found themselves attaching their whole personality around one role. Ones relationship might change with their partner or family members due to the loss of routine.

Physical illness - Physical illnesses such as paralysis , heart disease , arthritis , Parkinson’s disease can make it frustrating for an individual to keep up with the fast moving generation. Poor physical health can affect your mental wellbeing and quality of life. It can make it harder to get out and do the things one enjoys, which can make one feel depressed or anxious.

Medication - Most older people are taking some medication, and many are taking more than one. As we get older, the way we process medications changes. We’re more susceptible to side-effects such as nausea, dizziness, loss of appetite and muscle weakness. Some side-effects such as low mood, confusion and delirium can appear to be the symptoms of a mental illness, even though they’re not. Regular physiological processes such as bowel movement might be disrupted if one gets habitual of the medication, so is the effect for the medicines that act as a hormone booster.

Loneliness - Research has linked social isolation and loneliness to higher risks for a variety of physical and mental conditions: high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, a weakened immune system, anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, and even death. People who find themselves unexpectedly alone due to the death of a spouse or partner, separation from friends or family, retirement, loss of mobility, and lack of transportation are at particular risk.


If you are in your mid or late sixties, or older, and if you have been struggling with emotional or behavioural issues lately, it could be possible that you’re going through some age-related troubles. But, it is also very likely that you’re simply reacting to an overwhelming situation in your personal life. Either way, seek help. Don’t feel ashamed to admit that you’re having difficulty coping; talk to your family and loved ones about your struggles and decide how you can get help.

Reference -

Wood,J. ( 2014, May 31 ) . Sudden Death of Loved One Can Trigger Psychiatric Disorders. Retrieved from - https://psychcentral.com/news/2014/05/31/sudden-death-of-loved-one-can-trigger-psychiatric-disorders#1

Fleming, L. ( 2022, March 11 ). Lack of Affection During Pandemic Increased Depression and Loneliness. Retrieved from - https://www.verywellmind.com/study-finds-a-lack-of-affection-during-pandemic-increased-depression-loneliness-5221894


This Blog on 'Old-Age and Mental Health' has been contributed by Simarpreet Kaur, who is currently pursuing BA in psychology from GGDSD College, Chandigarh. She is keenly interested in singing, creating content, and drawing and looks forward to becoming a counselor someday.

She is part of the Global Internship Research Program (GIRP). GIRP is a Umang Foundation Trust initiative to encourage young adults across our globe to showcase their research skills in psychology and to present it in creative content expression.