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Seniors are vulnerable, undertreated


Seniors are at risk for mental illness and addictions.

Some seniors already have a mental health issue from earlier in life. Others have a mental health problem, such as depression, that developed later in life.

Perhaps they have lost a loved one or suffered a stroke.

Seniors often are undertreated for mental health problems.

Reasons may include:

  • Symptoms being mistaken for other conditions

Many seniors have multiple health problems. It’s sometimes difficult to tell the difference between signs of physical and mental illness.

Also, symptoms of mental illness may look different in older adults.

  • Discrimination and stigma

Some people are unwilling to ask for help for fear of what others may think and how they may be treated.

There still are many negative and mistaken attitudes around mental illness that fuel discrimination and stigma—and make it harder to reach out for help.

  • Believing it is too late in life to make changes

Seniors, family members, and others can believe it is too late to do anything about poor mental and physical health in older age.

It is never too late!

  • Physical and financial challenges

Getting to treatment can be a challenge for many older people with mobility issues. So is the cost of treatment.

Not all mental health services are publicly-funded.

Seniors who don’t have private insurance may not be able to pay for services that aren’t covered.

  • Service availability

Everyone’s treatment needs are different, and sometimes the right services and community supports aren’t available when people need them.

For information on services available in your community, visit

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