Common problems affecting older persons

  • Physical (failing sight and hearing, poor dentition e.t.c)
  • Mental problems
  • Psychological problems
  • Social problem
  • Economic problem

A man’s life is normally divided into five stages namely: infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood and old age. In each of these stages an individual finds himself in different situations and faces different problems. Old age is viewed as an unavoidable, undesirable and problem ridden phase of life. Problems of aging usually appear after the age of 65 years.

Psychological problem of older people

Mental disorders are very much associated with old age. Older people are susceptible to psychotic depressions. The two major psychotic disorder of older people are:

  • Senile dementia (associated with cerebral atrophy and degeneration) and
  • Psychosis with cerebral arteriole sclerosis (associated with either blocking or ruptures in the cerebral arteries)

It has been observed that these two disorder accounts for approximately 80% of the psychotic disorders among older people in the civilized societies.

Senile dementia

Older people suffer from senile dementia. They develop symptoms of poor memory, intolerance of change, disorientation, restlessness, insomnia, failure of judgment, a gradual formation of delusion and hallucinations, extreme-mental depression and agitation etc.

Psychosis with cerebral arteriosclerosis

This is accompanied by physiological symptoms such as;

  • Acute indigestion
  • Unsteadiness in gait
  • Small strokes resulting in cumulative brain damage and
  • Gradual personality change

Conclusive seizures are relatively common.

Social problems of the older person

Older people suffer social losses greatly with age. Their social life is narrowed down by loss of work associated, death of relatives, friends and spouse and weak health which restricts their participation in social activities. The home becomes the center of their social life which gets to the interpersonal relationship with the family members. Due to loss of most of the social roles they once performed, they are like y to be lonely and isolated, severe chronic health problem enable them to become socially isolated which results in loneliness and depression.

Mental problems of the old people

Multiple social psychological and biological factors level of mental health of a person at any point of time. As well as the typical life stressors common to all people, many older adult loss 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 social-economic status with retirement or a disability. All of these factors can result in isolation, loss of independence, loneliness and psychological distress in older people.

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 in an older person, heart disease can negatively affect the outcome of the physical disease.

Older adults are also vulnerable to elder abuse including;

  • Physical
  • Sexual
  • Psychological
  • Emotional
  • Financial
  • Material abuse
  • Abandonment
  • Neglect
  • Serious losses of dignity and respect

Current evidence suggests that 1 in 10 older people experience elder abuse. Elder abuse can lead not only to physical injuries, but sometimes long-lasting psychological consequences, including depression and anxiety.

Economic problems of the older people

The majority of older adults does not work and have fewer options for continued income. They are at risk for rising cost of living, which may place them at an economic disadvantage and potentially at lower levels of socio-economic status, e.g. retirement and income. Social-economic status (SES) encompasses not just income but also educational attainment, financial security and subjective perceptions of social status and social class.

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