Serious Issues Facing Older Adults

As people age, a number of serious issues can have a major impact on their lives. In addition to chronic disease, mental health and substance abuse problems can have a devastating impact.

  • Approximately 20% of people age 55 and older experience some type of mental health concern.
  • Feeling sad or depressed is not a natural part of aging and a cocktail, sleeping pill or other prescription medication may be indicative of a more serious problem. 
  • Older Americans have the highest suicide rate of any age group, and depression is its foremost risk factor. Although older adults make up 13% of the population, they account for 20% of the suicide deaths in the U.S.
  • As many as 5.3 million people in the U.S.are living with Alzheimer’s, which is the seventh-leading cause of death.
  • Adults age 65 and over represent 13% of the American population; however, they use about 30% of all prescription drugs.
  • Prescription medication and alcohol misuse affect up to 17% of Americans ages 65 and older.
  • A growing type of abuser is the “late-onset alcoholic,” a person who shows no sign of alcoholism until a major life change (health problems, death of a spouse, financial worries, depression or sleeplessness) triggers drinking after age 50.
  • There are a variety of treatments for geriatric depression, including psychosocial and/or pharmacological interventions as well as psychotherapy.