30 July 2017

Mind matters: Identifying changes in your loved one’s mental wellbeing

When it comes to mental wellbeing, it is important to know what signs and symptoms to look out for and how to access the right type of support.

The last time you visited your elderly mum or dad, did they seem a bit despondent? Did they express unwarranted concern about their financial situation or avoid doing an activity they usually enjoy? These sudden changes may be signs of depression or anxiety, or that they simply are not coping.
Mental wellbeing is just as important as physical health. Sometimes, people can experience an off week but quickly bounce back. But this isn’t the case for everyone, and might be an indication that they require some comfort and support.

There are a number of factors that can increase the likelihood of someone developing depression or anxiety when they are older. According to beyondblue, anxiety and depression can occur for many different reasons. However, common triggers for older people can include physical illness and personal loss, as well as change in living arrangements, isolation, death of a loved one, and anniversaries.

Everyone is different and will react differently to certain situations. Family members and friends usually know their loved one the best, but it is still important to know what signs and symptoms to look out for and how to access the right type of support.
Signs and symptoms to look out for:
  • Not looking after themselves
  • Changes in physical appearance
  • Avoiding spending time with family and friends
  • Spending more time alone
  • Avoiding social situations and events
  • Loss of motivation
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Trouble remembering things
  • Irrational thoughts, fears or worries
  • Increased concern about health
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Negative or hopeless comments
  • Increased moodiness or irritability
This is not an exhaustive list. If you recognise signs or symptoms of depression or anxiety in a loved one, you can seek support and advice from or phone beyondblue’s hotline 1300 224 636.

beyondblue has many resources on how to start the conversation with an older person about their mental wellness. Visit the website to watch videos or read the fact sheet about what questions to ask and how to approach the situation.