Mental health articles

OF mental health care and mentally ill

What can make an elderly person with disturbed behaviour

Sometimes aggression or confusion occurs in elderly people. Less
often, relatives many complain that the elderly person has become
sexually inappropriate, or is constantly demanding to go out of the
house even though he is confused. Another type of disturbed
behaviour is when a person simply withdraws from her everyday
life and appears to lose interest in things. This is less likely to
be considered ‘disturbing’ but is as important as a sign of a
mental illness.

There are four main reasons why elderly people may behave
unusually.
• Depression. The common features of depression in elderly people
are withdrawal from everyday life, loss of appetite, poor sleep and
physical complaints. Some can become agitated and suicidal.
• Delirium or confusion. The typical feature of delirium is that it is acute; the disturbed behaviour will have begun in the past few days. The person may be hallucinating and may be agitated.
• Psychosis. Severe mental disorders can give rise to suspicious thoughts and hallucinations. Psychosis can also occur in elderly people who suffer from dementia.
• Dementia. This is an illness that mainly affects older people, especially those who are more than 65 years of age. The earliest sign of the illness is memory problems. The illness usually comes to
the notice of a health worker because of the disturbed behaviour. Dementia is a disease where the brain gradually degenerates. At present, there is no cure and most sufferers will gradually
get worse and die within a few years. The commonest causes of dementia are Alzheimer’s disease and strokes.

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