The Rise of Elder Suicide

While elder suicides might not get as much attention as suicide in other demographics, adults 85 and older have the highest rate of suicide among adults. Seniors often become a forgotten demographic, especially since many elders grew up in a time where mental health topics were taboo. One thing is clear—caregivers, family members and friends need to be aware of the suicide epidemic currently taking place in adults 65 and over.

The Problem of Suicide in Older Adults

Older people today came of age when mental health services were much less advanced. In fact, lobotomies were seen as a legitimate mental health treatment until the mid-1950s. Growing up with such primitive therapies leaves many older adults fearful of discussing mental health issues and leads to increased stigma. As studies have indicated, a higher degree of stigma negatively affects an adult’s likelihood to follow antidepressant medication and treatment regimens.  Many elder suicides are also never reported.

Currently, professionals in the field believe that up to 40% of suspicious deaths among elders are “silent suicides” that occur as a result of starvation, dehydration, overdose or other “accidents.” Another underlying issue behind silent suicides is a lack of quality palliative care for elders with chronic pain. Increasing life expectancies do not mean fewer pain-free years. Instead, a longer life has become synonymous with more years of suffering.

Depression in Elders

In cases where older adults leave behind a suicide note, the most commonly mentioned conditions include chronic pain from cancer, arthritis and other diseases. Other concerns include the impact of cognitive or functional decline, a loss of independence, concern over being put into a nursing home or worsening depression. The combination of many elements often makes older adults feel like suicide is the only solution for feelings.

Help Prevent Senior Suicide

  • Don’t be afraid to ask if a senior is having suicidal thoughts. Many people don’t know how to broach the topic but will open up if asked.
  • If a senior does tell you that he or she is feeling suicidal, do not act shocked and upset. This can increase stigma and shut the conversation down.
  • Don’t try to approach depression and suicide as a morality or spiritual issue. Instead, listen openly to how the senior is feeling.
  • Take action to remove access to firearms, extra medication and any other things the elder might use to commit suicide.
  • Never leave someone who is actively suicidal alone.

You’re Never Alone with Senior Care Lifestyles

At Senior Care Lifestyles, we specialize in facilitating the connection between seniors and the right in-home care, assisted living and senior living communities. We have assisted hundreds of families with finding effective and affordable solutions for loved ones. Get in touch today by calling 410-977-3718!

Deborah Bakalich, Certified Senior Advisor®
Deborah Bakalich, Certified Senior Advisor®
Owner, Certified Senior Advisor (CSA®) & Assisted Living Placement Specialist - Senior Care Lifestyles, LLC provides compassion, guidance and recommendations to families faced with transitioning a loved one into Assisted Living, Dementia/Alzheimer’s Care, Skilled Nursing, Temporary Respite Care or a Continuous Care Retirement Community. Senior Care Lifestyles was founded in 2014 by Deborah Bakalich, a Certified Senior Advisor and graduate from both Towson University and Stevenson. Senior Care Lifestyles is uniquely positioned as a local (not National) Maryland based placement firm familiar with Maryland senior care facilities and in-state financial assistance programs for senior residents. They meet personally with each family to understand the seniors care needs including medical, personal lifestyle preferences, budget, religion and desired geographic location. They pride themselves in locally guiding and educating families through the entire maze of senior living options available and will schedule tours on behalf of the family and accompany the family on visits of communities. They are passionate and committed to finding the perfect match to call home and stays with the family throughout the entire process, every step of the way, until a decision is made, and the senior is safely moved into their new home. Senior Care Lifestyles can also provide the family with trustworthy, vetted, and reputable experts to assist with the transition for organizing, packing, moving, sale of real estate, estate planning, legal services, and determining eligibility for State, Federal and Veterans Benefits to assist with care costs. Deborah is a proud member of the Maryland Senior Resource Network (MSRN) where she has served as Vice President on the Board of Directors. She is a member of the Alzheimer’s Organization, Society of Certified Senior Advisors, Mid-Atlantic Network Group and a member of the Business Opportunity Network (BON).

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