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If you are a child of a parent experiencing a mental health challenge, you may wonder how you can best help them. Unsurprisingly, to help a parent effectively, you may have to redefine your relationship in some significant ways. Nevertheless, there is no question that family support during recovery can have a significant effect on treatment and overall recovery outcomes. At Alter Wellness Care, we understand the importance of family connections for better mental health.
The Prevalence of Mental Health Issues in Adults
Mental health challenges can develop at any time in your life. Contrary to what you may believe, older adults can struggle with their mental health for a variety of reasons. For example, as a person grows older, they might experience more physical health problems that affect their mental health. They might also feel more loneliness and isolation. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “It is estimated that 20% of people age 55 years or older experience some type of mental health concern. The most common conditions include anxiety, severe cognitive impairment, and mood disorders.”
Recognizing When a Parent Is Struggling
It is very important to become familiar with signs that may indicate that an older loved one might be struggling with their mental health. The sooner a mental health disorder can be diagnosed and treated, the better chance of securing lasting symptom management and recovery.
Here are some early warning signs that a parent may be struggling:
- Noticeable changes in their energy levels
- Changes in their mood, such as unusual sadness or irritability
- Loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy
- Having trouble with their memory, such as forgetfulness, confusion, or disorientation
- They are experiencing unexplained aches and pains
Moreover, you will likely be able to tell when there is something not quite right about your parent’s mood or behavior. When these signs become noticeable, it might help to have a conversation with them about how they are doing. If necessary, you can encourage them to consult with their primary healthcare provider for more information about mental health treatment.
Tips to Help a Parent
If your parent is struggling with mental health, there are some things that you can do to support them. For most people, loneliness can inform and worsen mental health problems. Human beings need healthy connections with other people to maintain their well-being. A lot of the things that you can do to help a parent that is struggling with mental health involve simply spending quality time with them.
In addition, consider the following suggestions:
Reaching out to your parents more often can be especially helpful to both you and your parent on many levels. By having regular contact with your loved one, you will be able to detect changes that could otherwise indicate mental health issues. Further, when you cultivate a deep relationship together, you can increase both of your mental health resilience.
Participate in Acts of Service
When people are struggling with mental health challenges, they can also have trouble functioning in their daily routines. Practical help, like bringing over a meal or helping with housework, can help take pressure off your parent while they work to recover. It’s also a great way to show that you care and are thinking of them and their needs.
Have Patience and Empathy
Mental health disorders can be confusing and frustrating, both for the person who is experiencing the challenge and the people around them. Any time you are dealing with a loved one that is struggling with mental health, one of the most important things you can do is try to remain patient and empathetic.
Encourage Mental Health Treatment
If your parent is struggling with their mental health, you should also consider encouraging them to participate in mental health treatment. In addition, you could educate yourself about their diagnosis or facilitate transportation to appointments. You can also reassure them that mental health struggles are normal and there is nothing wrong with asking for help.
To Help a Parent, Help Yourself Too
When you are trying to help a parent through a mental health challenge, your own mental health can sometimes be affected. To avoid this, it is essential to prioritize your own mental well-being as your help your parent. If your life is starting to be affected negatively, it is important to do what you need to to preserve your mental health. That might mean taking a break, asking for help, or getting professional mental health support for yourself. Remember that if you are struggling, you will not be able to support your parent in a meaningful way.
Help a Parent With Alter Wellness Care
At Alter Wellness Care, we offer a variety of mental health resources that can help you and your loved one stay on track. We are devoted to the long-term success and happiness of our clients. Our compassionate team offers evidence-based therapy services, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT). We also offer intensive outpatient programs (IOP) and partial hospitalization programs (PHP) to provide a higher level of care for your parent who may benefit the most. Whatever your mental health needs are, Alter Wellness Care is here to support you.
Mental health is important in every stage of life. As a parent gets older, it is important to be mindful of their mental health. Checking in with your parent creates a quality connection that will be helpful in several ways. Connecting regularly can help both of you maintain your well-being and decrease loneliness. In this way, you will be able to help them monitor their mental health and find out how best to support them. If you or your loved one need professional mental health support, Alter Wellness Care can help. Call our compassionate team at (866) 311-3510 for more information on the resources we provide to our clients to empower them in achieving their goals.