mental health nursing in older adults

Mental Health Care Challenges in Older Adults: Can Mental Health Nursing Help?

Guest Post

November 13, 2023 | Reading Time: 3 Minutes

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Globally, the aging population is growing at a fast pace. This demographic shift is leading to an increase in mental health issues and special needs among older adults who require attention. To effectively care for seniors who are vulnerable to various mental ailments, a multi-faceted mental health nursing approach is needed. 

Providing Care of Older Adults with Mental Health Issues: The Challenges

Aging‌ can lead to several mental health problems, such as cognitive decline, depression, and anxiety. Moreover, elderly individuals may also have pre-existing mental health issues that require ongoing management and treatment. Additionally, they may suffer from sensory impairments, physical disabilities, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, or other neurodegenerative diseases.

It is essential to address these challenges to ensure that older adults receive the appropriate treatment and care. In this article, we will discuss the mental health care challenges for seniors and the role of mental health nurses in their recovery.

On the surface, caring for older individuals with mental ailments might appear manageable. However, when you get to do the work, you will come across several challenges, such as:

Misconceptions and Stigma. Today, there continues to be stigma surrounding mental health issues, especially among older adults. This stigma can lead to delayed diagnosis and treatment because elderly individuals may not want to seek help due to their lack of knowledge about mental ailments. They might also fear judgment from others, causing them to bury the issue and suffer in silence.

Restricted Availability to Care. At times, older adults might have minimal access to mental health care services. It holds for rural regions and for those who don’t have sufficient financial resources. This limited access can result in inadequate and delayed treatment.

Challenging Health Requirements. Seniors with depression or dementia have complex medical needs that require precise coordination between primary and mental health care providers. It is necessary to address treatment interactions, medication management, and co-morbidities, which can get tough to manage. 

Caregiver Burnout. Caregivers and family members typically take on the responsibility of caring for elderly individuals in their homes who are suffering from mental health issues. The physical and emotional toll of this ongoing caregiving can lead to burnout, affecting the well-being of both the older adult and the caregiver. Therefore, it is necessary to note these challenges and choose a solution that will work to provide relief to older adults. One of the best ways is to contact a mental health nurse and chart out a treatment plan.

Understanding The Relevance of a Mental Health Nurse

Mental health nurses, also known as psychiatric nurses, provide care for people suffering from mental health problems. They help individuals recover and enhance their overall quality of life with sustained care and guidance. Modern-day mental health nurses are equipped with the knowledge of diagnosing, evaluating, and treating mental disorders, enabling them to offer specialized care. Typically, they work closely with other healthcare professionals as part of a team to improve patient outcomes.

These nurses can pursue RN to MSN-PMHNP online degrees in mental health nursing from reputable institutions. The curriculum is designed to enable them to treat older adults and individuals of various age groups with conditions such as depression, psychosis, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. A skilled mental health nurse cooperates with the patient to ensure their recovery. They can provide the patient’s family, the attending doctor, and the patient with information about their mental ailment and probable treatment. They also offer counseling and strategies for managing emotional and stress-related challenges.

Mental health nurses maintain medical records for reference and review the patient’s treatment plan. Mental health nursing can also offer psychotherapy to patients and the appropriate medication. Furthermore, they can guide patients about medication side effects and collaborate with the doctor to review the treatment plan. According to Rockhurst University, all of this is possible because of the extensive training they receive through pursuing an online Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner academic course. 

Leading universities that offer courses in mental health nursing prepare advanced practice nurses to assess the holistic needs of individuals. By following the academic course, they can reflect on their learning and inquire about their needs, which helps them provide the necessary care for older adults with mental health issues.


As we age, our physical and mental capacities decline. As a result, many seniors often develop conditions such as dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. Once a senior citizen is diagnosed with a mental health problem, it is essential to take proactive steps to ensure their mental health condition gradually improves or doesn’t further deteriorate. 

Mental health nursing practitioners may be the appropriate medical professional to treat and heal senior citizens with mental health ailments. With their extensive medical knowledge of mental health nursing and telehealth gained through updated academic courses, they are well-equipped to treat older adults with mental problems and make a significant difference.

Sponsored Guest Post Author Bio

Shweta Dey

Mental Health Nursing

Shweta is a writer with 10+ years’ of experience writing evidence-based healthcare articles and blogs.

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