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Capital Chemist HughesIf you are caring for ageing parents, it’s important to be aware of mental health problems that may affect their wellbeing.

While mental health problems can occur at any stage of life there are some stressors more common as you get older, such as:

  • Chronic pain
  • Illness and physical health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Increased social isolation
  • Grief and loss as friends and loved ones pass away
  • Financial worries
  • Frailty and loss of independence and self-esteem
  • Side effects of medicines
  • Changes in living situations such as hospital admissions or moving to an assisted care facility
  • Loss of hearing resulting in confusion and inability to keep up with conversations

If your parent has experienced one or more of these stressors, it’s important to keep your eye out for any signs or symptoms of depression and anxiety. While we all feel sad or anxious at times, depression and anxiety can develop slowly over time. You may notice some of these symptoms:

  • They seem miserable, moody or irritable most of the time
  • They have little interest or enjoyment in the things that used to give them pleasure
  • They seem confused, worried or troubled
  • They neglect self-care
  • They can’t make a decision
  • They seem less confident
  • Their sleeping habits change – either too much or too little
  • Their appetite changes and they are eating a lot more or very little and may have gained or lost weight
  • They seem forgetful
  • They may complain of headaches, backaches or other aches and pains
  • They suffer from digestive upsets

If you are concerned, suggest they speak to their doctor. Their doctor may suggest some lifestyle changes such as exercising regularly, improving their diet and spending time with family and friends. Their doctor may also prescribe medication which will be dispensed by your community pharmacist. Many mental disorders may require more than a short course of medicines to treat them effectively and medication adherence is essential to preventing a relapse or recurrence.

When dispensing their medicines, your community pharmacist will have regular contact with your parent. As a medicines expert, they will play an important role in supporting both your parent and you as their carer, to encourage medication adherence. They can also answer any questions you may have about interactions with other medicines your parents may be taking or side effects they may be experiencing. Speak to the friendly team at Capital Chemist Hughes, they are there to help you.