Aging and Mental Health

Can the U.S. health system handle the needs of an expanding older population?


By 2034, the number of adults aged 65 and older is expected to outnumber children for the first time in U.S. history. Older adults face unique risks for mental illness, including the emotional stress from health disorders more common to older age, the loss of purpose that can accompany retirement and loneliness that can result from the death of friends and family. Yet their rates of mental illness, though significant, are lower than younger cohorts, for reasons that are not entirely clear. This trend is holding during the COVID-19 pandemic despite the higher risk to older Americans for severe illness and death from the virus. Still, relatives and many medical professionals often fail to recognize mental health problems in older people, mistakenly believing symptoms are ...

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