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Mental Healthiness in Aging Initiative

 

 

Aging in Kentucky: A Healthy State of Mind

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Mental Healthiness in Aging Initiative


Normal aging is a gradual process with some decline in physical abilities, some decreases in hearing and vision, and some decreased lung and heart capacity as well as in increase in susceptibility to getting ill. There are changes in mental functioning but many negative stereotypes about aging have been disproven by current research. According to the 1999 Surgeon General’s Report on Mental Health, important aspects of mental health in the normal aging process include “stable intellectual functioning, capacity for change, and productive engagement with life” (need to simplify).

Almost 20% of those of us in the 55 and older population experience specific mental disorders that are not part of the normal aging process. According to these statistics and the 2000 census data, in Kentucky, 175,500 people 55 or older, experienced mental health disorders that were not part of the aging process. Depression, Alcohol and drug misuse and abuse, anxiety, and other conditions can severely impair an older adult or even cause death. Nationwide, the rate of suicide, often caused by depression, is highest among older adults. In Kentucky in 2004, there were 32.5 suicides per 100,000 population for those 50 and older. The number of attempted suicides drops dramatically for this age group, but the number of successful suicides increases with age.

There are strategies that can make our years as we age into older adulthood much more satisfying and rewarding. Learning to identify signs and symptoms of poor mental health in older adults and describe the negative consequences of poor mental health in older adults can help in learning strategies for attaining good mental health.

Benefits of Maintaining Mental Healthiness as You Age

Maintain independence

Maintain friendships
Live in the
present
Have high quality of life
 Minimize stress/impact of poor mental health
on one’s family
Maintain self-identity
Maintain memories
(of the past, family, friends,accomplishments, medical history)
Be able to cope with
whatever happens

 

This project was supported by the Rural Health and Safety Education Competitive Program of the USDA
Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, grant number 2007-04885.

Copyright © 2009 University of Kentucky and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Educational programs of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension serve all people
regardless
of race, color, age, sex, religion,disability, or national origin.

CONTACT
TYRONE ATKINSON

FOR MHAI INFOMATION
tcatki2@email.uky.edu
859-257-8900