Bell Canada held a “Let’s Talk Day” to assist health institutions by raising awareness and funds for mental illness. I would like to contribute by raising awareness about mental illness among seniors and to encourage seniors as well as others affected by mental illness to seek help.
Seniors comprise a large part of Canada’s population and our numbers are growing faster than other age groups. This means the possible number of seniors with mental illness could be rising exponentially. I believe seniors are often underserved and misunderstood by many Health Care Professionals. Too often seniors’ symptoms which could be caused by mental illness are attributed to “just part of the aging process.” Because we look “old” and are not as agile there is the assumption our brains are in decline. Not necessarily so! I was fortunate and am very grateful that I did not experience serious anxiety issues and depression until well into my senior years. However, this has not lessened the impact on my overall health and lifestyle.
In the beginning, I was focused on reaching out for help, trying to find out how this happened and what do I have to do to “cure” it. I learned many factors can contribute to mental illness including inherited traits, physical illness, stressful events, and other possible factors. I found out that there are many options to help me heal, such as medication, counselling, acupuncture, CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) exercise, to name a few. It is often trial and error to determine which works best for each person. My journey with mental illness continues and has caused me to re-examine everything in my life and to make the changes that will contribute to my recovery. Although a “cure” would be ideal I believe it is more realistic to work on a return to as full and active a life as possible.
If you think you have a mental illness issue, whether or not you are a senior, reach out for help. We do not have to struggle alone. There are people and healing options to help us!
Joanne Lovett Potter,