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Mental health a growing issue in older adults

July 12, 2012

While some people may associate senior health only with their physical well-being, results of a new report suggest medical professionals should also look at their mental state. The study from the Institute of Medicine found that as many as one in five adults over 65 have a mental health or substance abuse problem, according to The Associated Press.

Though avoiding some of the common physical ailments that surface with age is crucial to senior living, doctors say addressing the mental health of seniors is important as well. They add that as the senior population grows in the coming decades, the issue may come to the forefront. Already there may be as many as 8 million Americans over 65 who have a mental health condition, many of which are tied to dementia.

"This is a wake-up call for many reasons," Dr. Ken Duckworth of the National Alliance on Mental Illness told the AP. Adding that mental health "is quite profound for us as a nation, and something we need to attend to urgently."

One of the more common mental health problems faced by seniors is depression. About 25 percent of seniors suffer from the condition, and studies have shown a correlation between depression and health, according to The Huffington Post.