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Mental Illness and Dementia: Are They Related?

Mental Illness and Dementia: Are They Related?


Having a loved one get diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia can be difficult to deal with and accept. Once a senior’s memory loss issues are diagnosed, they will likely need to be looked after and receive special care. One of the reasons a senior with memory loss may need more support is because of their decline in mental health.

Many confuse dementia for a mental illness, as dementia can have many similar symptoms to some mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia and depression. Rather, it is a disorder of the brain that causes memory loss. Dementia itself is not classified as a mental illness, but seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia are likely to develop a mental illness, particularly depression or anxiety, in the early stages of their disease.

The correct diagnosis of mental illness or dementia in seniors is key to making sure they get the appropriate treatment as fast as possible. Misdiagnosis of mental illness in seniors is very easy, as symptoms tend to be similar to dementia, such as confusion and erratic behavior.

Common Mental Illnesses in Seniors with Dementia

In the event of signs of mental illness in a senior, it is crucial to recognize the symptoms and seek treatment sooner rather than later. The following are some of the most common mental illnesses among seniors:

  • Depression: Seniors are most likely to suffer from this mental disorder. As social isolation plays an important role in emotional well-being, depression can quickly set in if a senior is left alone for long periods. 
  • Late-onset schizophrenia: Adults become more likely to develop this after age 45, and it has symptoms similar to dementia, including hallucinations and paranoia.
  • Late-onset bipolar: There are similarities between symptoms of this condition and those of dementia in the late stages, including manic behavior, agitation, and delusions, making it difficult to diagnose.

Memory Care Communities for Mental Health

A memory care community can be extremely beneficial for seniors with memory loss, Alzheimer’s, or another form of dementia. These communities are specially designed to keep residents with memory loss safe and secure while providing activities to stimulate their minds.

Our staff at The Summit at Sunland Springs in East Mesa, Arizona, takes the time to get to know each resident. We are here to provide seniors with the best possible care while making them feel comfortable and at home. Give us a call to learn more about our community.

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