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Mental Health and Feeling Well

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I looked into the old man's face and saw nothing but numerous thin lines that defined his age and glassy eyes with so much sadness and worry, his mouth clenched and relaxed as if he was suppressing his thoughts purposely. Last week, I heard he fell down due to weakness, as the doctor told him. He was given some medicines and was told to get bed rest. Every five minutes he calls someone by name. It could be someone that he wanted or it could be just to make sure that someone was there just in case. He hasn't eaten but one bite at every meal for days now. He eats lots and lots of sugar in everything he does eat. Everybody thinks he is worried and he is old. I think he is depressed and could not express his feelings to anyone. Well, maybe it is one and the same, what they say and what I say. The bottom line is that he is depressed.

It is one thing to go through depression because of problems that we face, whether it be from relationships, work, health or loneliness. And it's another to go through it from old age. I believe that age-related depression is the worst of all kinds of mental problems for many people. Several reasons could contribute for this kind of age-related depression. These include:

1. Feeling of unworthiness : men more than women feel this as women tend to interact with other people more and they tend to find something to do all the time even after retirement. It could be coffee with friends, chatting with neighbors, watching television serials, knitting, reading, etc. Most women entertain themselves by caring for their grandchildren. Since men do not have the nurturing quality as women do they do not know how to care for the children. Many men are technically inclined, working on the cars or in the backyard. But as they grow old these chores become more of a burden for them to do. Men tend to be alone most of the time since they do not have time to socialize with neighbors or knitting. Some have few friends to speak to, and the ones they do have might not have the time to do so, and watching television serials is sometimes out of the question for most men who prefer watching news at night time. They build their mental status by feeling worthy while working. Man is the bread winner of the family the saying still goes even though women have been in the workforce for more than a couple of decades now. So naturally, men tend to feel unworthy and unproductive in their old age.

2. Feeling physically helpless: Most men tend to do hard physical work outdoors. They do not admit when they become physically weak with age that they are not as strong as they once were. They still want to go on as they were all the previous years. Even if they are shaking in the hands when they are holding something or cannot get up by themselves from chairs they don't want anyone's help. But when they do need to get help they feel very helpless and irritated. This leads to their feelings of frustration and anger. Physical incapability is the biggest reason for depression to set in, which may eventually lead to death if they are not taken care of in the beginning. Feeling of dependency is not very well taken with most elderly people.

3. Forgetfulness: As the aging process continues so does dementia. Forgetting to do simple chores such as brushing teeth, eating meals or taking a shower becomes a part of life. Then begins the pestering of the caretakers with questions regarding things to be done. Like children who begin their quest in learning about the world, older people tend to ask questions about everything and everyone around them. Sometimes a question as simple as "did I eat?" is repeated at least 10 times. People who care for these elderly people should make a mental note that it is not out of rudeness that these questions are repeated but because of forgetfulness, and that they should practice patience.

4. Medical conditions: Many elderly people become dependent on many medicines for conditions that include cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and hypertension, among others. Sometimes the volumes of these medicines may seem like it is greater than the actual meals themselves. Taking so many medicines with so many side effects is not easy on the body at that age. Then come the ulcers, heartburn, diarrhea, vomiting, and headaches. These conditions worsen as the elderly become more incapacitated towards the end. This leads to more depression and more sickness. Some medicines are taken for so many years at the end they simply stop working and start creating contraindications.

5. With the concept of living single comes growing old single and alone. Loneliness is the most dangerous and depressing idea, for not only the elderly but even for younger generations. Communication is the medicine for the mind for most people that keeps us going strong. Being able to speak to another person gives us a sense of strength, usefulness for life and something to think about. The communication that's kept up while working and after hours while we were young cease to exist as we grow old. Children of the elderly who live in old age homes or hospices look forward to seeing their loved ones more often but because of the busy work schedules or some other reasons it is becoming a rare commodity. When keeping mentally active with communication and the need for companionship is not met, deep depression sets in and I believe this will eventually lead to death.

6. Fear of death is another reason for the depression. This fear is equal in both men and women. From what I have noticed it is not the fear of death itself but not having anyone near when death finally arrives that makes most people irate at the end. As I watch my father-in-law now I can feel his fear very clearly as he asks and worries constantly that someone is not near him even if we step out of the room for a few minutes. He lets us know that he is worried that the time has come and he doesn't want us to wander off just in case.

With every step leading towards physical handicap and mental incapacity most men become old faster than their counterparts. Women are better at keeping their health in check and keeping themselves busy until the end. Men are strong physically mostly until retirement. They tend to become dependent both physically and mentally faster especially if a loss of the spouse is involved after retirement. Care should be taken in order to keep their sanity intact by loved ones as well as the caregiver by providing them a sense of security and being sensitive to their needs because, OUR LIFE MATTERS.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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