Mental health and the elderly

As you age, life can take some unexpected twists and turns. Some surprises are welcome, while others can lead to turmoil, anxiety, or sadness. Taking the time to evaluate your mental health will keep you healthy, as well as help you avoid a major crisis. If you think you may be suffering from depression, learn more about mental health and what to do to stay healthy.

Learning About Mental Health

One of the most common mental health conditions that affect older adults is depression. Depression in older adults can be caused by a number of factors, such as genetics, or by abnormally low levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. If you’ve recently experienced the death of a loved one, have limited mobility, or feel isolated, your risk of depression also increases. Watch for the signs of depression, such as changes in appetite, social withdrawal, irritability, sadness, and difficulty sleeping.

Treatment Options

If your elderly family member is struggling with depression or another mental health concern, you have several treatment options, including medications, lifestyle changes, and therapy. Increasing physical activity, eating a well-balanced diet, finding a new hobby, and maintaining an active social life will all improve mental health and well-being. Therapies are a highly effective treatment option, and you could benefit from group therapy, art therapy, psychotherapy, or counseling.  Oftentimes bringing in a caregiver can dramatically change the situation. This outside caregiver can report health and mental changes to the family.

Medicare Coverage

As a senior, looking after your health takes on a new importance, and you know that you’ll need extra help to bounce back after an illness or injury. Take a look at your current Medicare plan and evaluate the coverage you have. Does it cover mental health treatment? You can find this information by looking at your health insurance card to find the website for your provider and coverage plan. Visit the web page to access all the details of your current coverage and find out what mental health coverage you have, and determine if the coverage matches your needs. You may already have a plan that covers visits to a mental health care professional.

Medicare Part B

If you need to increase your coverage to match your current or future health needs, consider Medicare Part B coverage. With Part B coverage you’ll have access to more mental health services, including inpatient and outpatient services. You can visit your family doctor for a depression screening and access follow-up treatment or referrals. You’ll also be covered for individual or group psychotherapy to work through your depression. You can access counseling and therapy from licensed health providers like clinical social workers and psychologists.

Renewing Your Medicare Coverage

If your plan is up for renewal, evaluate your health needs.  Decide if your current plan is providing the best coverage. Mental health treatment can be very costly. Having coverage could make all the difference in getting the treatment you need. Factor in the cost of services provided by mental health professionals. You might consider increasing your coverage so you’ll be prepared if and when you need to access mental health services.

Finding a Mental Health Professional

Once you’re satisfied that your Medicare coverage matches your needs, find a mental health professional in your area who accepts Medicare. Ask your primary doctor for a referral, talk to friends, or do an online search to find the right mental health professional. It can take some time to find the perfect fit. With patience, you’ll find a professional you’re excited to work with. If you’re a senior at risk of depression, evaluate your health coverage. You need to see if it’s still meeting your current needs. Consider the Medicare Plan B, and start looking for a licensed mental health professional who will accept Medicare. Be proactive and plan for the unexpected.

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