How to Help Your Senior Parents with Mental Illness

Senior Mental Illness

It is always a difficult time of transition when the roles between parents and their children reverse as they age.  While there are plenty of seniors in America who are perfectly able to continue taking care of themselves on a day to day basis, there are still millions who will require different types of help from their children.  That process could take place over a gradual period of time, or could show up unexpectedly for a variety of reasons.  Regardless of how it transpires, those who have older parents may suddenly realize one day that they must take the next step in providing the proper amount of care for them. 

But what if the sudden change is because of a parent dealing with a mental health issue?  Mental or behavioral health challenges are compounded with older age, and it can create a problem for family members in knowing how to respond to the situation, make an evaluation and determine what they should do.  On a very basic emotional level, it can also be simply difficult just dealing with a parent who is struggling; your parents or parents are who raised you, and seeing them struggle through this situation can be disorienting for many.

In order to help deal with the stresses of this new chapter of life for both parties, there are various options available.  Counseling can be a helpful tool for helping to balance the emotions that can come rushing through at this time.  A mental health expert can also become a powerful figure during this time, as they provide the needed guidance for what steps should be taken in order to get your parents the proper treatment. Developing these types of relationships should and can provide you with a solid network to deal with these trying times.

Let’s take a look at some of the steps you can take in order to help your parents with their mental illness oh behavioral health situation:

Get Plugged in Locally

There are plenty of local groups or families who are likely undergoing the same situation as yours: a senior parent who is struggling through a mental illness situation. Having the ability to talk with, share, discuss and encourage each other through the ups and downs can be a great source of encouragement. 

Discuss as Early as Possible

It is also important to address these issues as early as possible; for example, don’t wait for months or even potentially years after symptoms have set in to start taking steps or making changes.  Make a stand to be proactive and not reactive, even if you experience some pushback from your parents at first.  The key will be to promote constructive conversations and communication as much as possible in the early stages; this will be even be more helpful down the road as tougher decisions need to be made.

Empathize with Them

Understand that your parents have lived decades making their own decisions, raising you and providing for their family. It may not be easy for them to admit that they are struggling with a mental health condition, so it always helps to empathize with them and their situation; imagine if the roles were reversed.  Do your best to see the situation through their eyes, and empathize with this change in their life.

Choose Quality Mental Health Care

Having the ability to receive quality mental health care can make a huge difference, especially if the facility or mental health professional is focused on providing a welcoming atmosphere that makes patients feel at ease. The key to success always starts with the patient feeling loved, cared for, listened to and that they are in this together!

Contact Montevista today for a free and confidential mental health evaluation at 702-251-1371; if you feel believe that your senior parents are suffering from a mental health condition, we can help!

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