19 April, 2023

When a loved one ages, you may find that their behaviour or the way that they treat you changes.

It’s natural to feel overwhelmed by the needs and demands of your elderly loved one. Understanding your ageing loved one’s mental health can help you have a change of perspective and better connect with them.

In this blog post, we outline how these mental health issues may come across in your interactions and what you can do to help.


Common mental health obstacles amongst seniors

You may feel that your older loved one’s needs drastically change with time, which may be indicative of underlying mental health issues.

Changes in one’s mental health impacts physical health, and vice versa. As we age, our mental and physical health may become impaired. These impairments can affect our behaviour and interactions with others.

The most common mental health issue affecting older people is depression. In old age, depression may come across as neglecting responsibilities, behaving out-of-character, slowing down, or acting “negatively” or “pessimistically.”

In old age, a variety of factors can contribute to depression, including:

  • a change in socioeconomic status following retirement
  • grieving friends who they can’t see anymore
  • a change in living arrangements
  • bereavement of lost loved ones
  • experiencing elder abuse
  • loss of independence
  • financial stress
  • loneliness


How you can help

Now that you know more about how mental health impacts an elderly person’s behaviours, here are some ways to help. Assisting your ageing parent can make your life easier, too.

  1. Arrange professional help if necessary
  2. Communicate gently, yet clearly
  3. Consider expert assessment
  4. Prioritise their wellbeing
  5. Attend mediation
  6. Set boundaries
  7. Be patient

If you suspect your older loved one is lonely, you can help them by finding social groups to join, and by scheduling regular phone calls and visits.

Here is a blog post with 10 ways you can help lonely seniors.

Suffering from abuse can also contribute to poor mental health in older people. One in six older Australians report having experienced elder abuse within the past year. If you suspect an older person is at risk of elder abuse, please visit our page “Understanding Elder Abuse” to learn more.

If your older loved one is acting differently, consider any factors that may be contributing to mental health issues such as depression. This change in perspective can help you to better understand your loved one and to improve your relationship.


If you or an older person you know is having a difficult time lately, our experienced counsellors are here to help. We can help you explore your concerns and possible solutions in a safe and supportive environment.

You can learn more about our Elder Mediation Support Service here, or call 1300 063 232.


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