Mental Health Tests You Need after 60

It is your right to feel good. Being older than 60 does not mean you cannot have excellent mental health. But what are you doing to keep your mind healthy? Because the right and timely diagnosis are crucial to detecting the onset of several mental health disorders, your doctor will likely suggest a comprehensive set of mental health tests.

Here are a few basic mental health tests you need after 60 that will help determine if there’s any reason to be concerned about your health.

Dangers of Underdiagnosing Mental Health Issues

Adults over 60 who experience psychiatric disorders do not very often seek treatment from mental health specialists; rather, they turn to their general physicians for help. Mental health issues in older adults often manifest by a combination of medical, neurological, and psychological symptoms, making them more difficult to diagnose and treat.

It has even come to light that primary care providers underdiagnose mental health problems and undertreat them when they appear in seniors. It is costly to underdiagnose older adults with dementia, depression, anxiety, and alcohol abuse difficulties because they are in greater need of assistance, need more health care services, and have higher mortality rates. Mental Health Tests

Alzheimer’s Diagnosis in Seniors

It is not possible to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease with a single diagnostic test. Physicians use a variety of cognitive tests for Alzheimer’s and tools to make diagnoses. An example would be the N-Back Task, Testing Your Working Memory.

While it is almost always possible to determine if an individual has dementia, determining the exact cause can be difficult.

Medical Tests for Diagnosing Alzheimer’s

Let’s have a brief look at the tests that can confirm Alzheimer’s disease:

Medical History

Health care providers review a person’s medical history during the medical workup, including their psychiatric, cognitive, and behavioural history. In addition, the doctor will inquire about any conditions affecting other family members.

Physical Exam 

Medical workups usually include questions regarding diet, nutrition, and alcohol consumption. Also, the doctor will review all medications and check blood pressure, temperature and pulse. They would listen to the heart and lungs and collect blood or urine samples for laboratory testing.

Neurological Exam

Physicians perform neurological exams to look for stroke symptoms, Parkinson’s disease, brain tumours, retention of fluid in the brain, and other conditions that may affect memory or thinking. The exam may also involve a brain imaging test.

Cognitive Tests for Dementia

Tests of mental cognition assess memory, reasoning, and problem-solving skills. Neuropsychologists often conduct comprehensive Cognitive Tests for Dementia to evaluate the executive function, judgment, attention, and language skills.

Genetic Testing

Researchers have specified specific genes that increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other rare “deterministic” genes that directly cause Alzheimer’s. The strongest Alzheimer’s risk gene, APOE-e4, is tested in the blood, but this test is primarily used for clinical trials to identify individuals at higher risk of the disease.

Brain Imaging

MRI and computed tomography scans are often part of a standard medical workup for Alzheimer’s. These tests primarily aim to exclude other conditions that may cause symptoms comparable to Alzheimer’s but require different treatments.

‘Prevention is better than cure,’ say the wisest people. And word games can help with memory and boost the brain functions of seniors, effectively playing a part in decreasing the chance of developing dementia. Playing Witty Words is a perfect way to keep mentally active and avoid the early onset of Alzheimer’s.

a tired senior woman sitting on sofa with closed eyes

Anxiety Diagnosis in the Elderly

As we age, anxiety tends to increase, which is a significant cause of high healthcare costs for society and individuals. A series of factors complicate the assessment of anxiety disorders in older adults, making it different from assessments in people of a younger age. A health care provider may be better at detecting signs of depression than anxiety, which include physical symptoms like shortness of breath and trouble sleeping, as well as cognitive and emotional symptoms like excessive worry and irritability.

Medical Test for Diagnosing Anxiety

Older adults suffering from anxiety can benefit from proper, specialized tests to reduce misdiagnoses and underdiagnoses. The Geriatric Anxiety Inventory (GAI) accurately measures seniors’ anxiety in many clinical and research settings worldwide. The GAI has been designed, tested, and validated primarily for use with older adults; the test has passed validation on those over 65 of age. Several studies have shown the GAI to be highly reliable and valid when measuring psychological distress.

Suicide Risk Diagnosis in Seniors

It is common for psychologists to encounter seniors who attempt suicide, which is concerning. Among those who attempted suicide, more than half had seen a primary care physician four weeks before the act. In this regard, primary care physicians play an essential role in the early detection and intervention of elderly suicidal patients. Additionally, it is time for a deeper understanding of seniors’ unique challenges and fears.

Medical Tests for Diagnosing Suicide risk

In order to effectively manage suicide risk, a proper suicide risk assessment is necessary. A delicate balance of knowing what questions to ask and how to ask them helps to obtain the relevant information.

Several factors contribute to suicide risk, some of which can be modified, while others cannot. The following are some of the risk factors:

  • A history of suicide attempts
  • Social isolation 
  • Financial issues
  • Functional impairment
  • The presence of major depressive disorder 
  • Chronic pain 
  • Chronic medical illnesses 
  • Cancer
  •  Neurological disorders
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 
  • Genitourinary conditions 
  • Alcohol or substance use

Depression Diagnosis in Seniors

It is common for older people to suffer from clinical depression. However, that does not mean it is normal. Older people are more affected by depression than younger ones. There is also a connection between depression in older adults and a higher risk of cardiac disease and death from illness. Depression in older adults often goes along with other medical conditions and disabilities and lasts longer. You might find it hard to believe, but depression can lead to Alzheimer’s.

An increased risk of death after a heart attack has also been linked to depression. Because of this, even mild depression should be evaluated and treated in seniors.

Medical Tests for Diagnosing Depression 

A primary care physician can diagnose depression more effectively by asking a series of standard questions. In fact, depression should be checked routinely by doctors. For example, patients can develop depression while undergoing treatment for a chronic illness or even financial issues. Physical conditions such as stroke, blood pressure, atrial fibrillation, cancer, diabetes, dementia, and chronic pain also increase depression risk. The following factors also contribute to depression in older adults:

  • Certain medicines or combinations of medicines
  • Damage to body image 
  • Dependence or needing home health care
  • Disability
  • Family history of major depressive disorder
  • Fear of death
  • Living alone, social isolation
  • Other illnesses
  • Past suicide attempt(s)
  • Presence of chronic or severe pain
  • Previous history of depression
  • Loss of a loved one
  • Substance abuse

Final Words

Regardless of age, mental health tests are crucial for monitoring your health and detecting health concerns in advance. 

Living a healthy, balanced and mindful lifestyle can also prevent mental health problems, and awareness is the key to making the switch. 

Exercise, regular health checkups, and a well-planned diet can all play an essential role in keeping your mind healthy and happy. Knowing how to maintain the mental health of seniors provides valuable information for deeper insight.

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