elderly woman being assisted

What to Do if Your Elderly Client Experiences Poor Mental Health

Mental health problems aren’t uncommon in the UK. In England alone, one in four people experiences a mental health concern every year. In addition, one in six English people report undergoing a common mental health condition in any given week.

We often associate these problems with young people, especially working adults. But the elderly are also prone to poor mental health. Data show that depression affects around 22% of older men and 28% of older women in the UK. Yet, an estimated 85% of older people with depression don’t receive aid from the NHS.

Many senior adults with dementia also experience depression or other mental illnesses. For carers, dealing with such a client can be exhausting and dangerous to their own mental health. Caring for the elderly without serious issues is already an arduous job in itself. If they also have to address a mental illness, their duties will be twice as hard.

Thankfully, they don’t have to feel helpless in this situation. Carers can overcome this challenge with enhanced skills and a more developed career.

Three Main Psychological Conditions Common in Senior Adults

Older adults, especially those with dementia, are susceptible to three psychological conditions, namely depression, anxiety, and apathy. However, it’s also possible for dementia-stricken elderly to behave like they have those conditions, even if they don’t. Such behaviours stem from other reasons, which may have something to do with their environment or the treatment they’re receiving.

For example, an older adult may seem depressed, but they’re actually just bored and lamenting a lack of enough stimulation. They may also act anxious, but it’s because they have unmet needs. If they seem apathetic, they might just be overwhelmed because they have to make a decision.

Still, those aren’t reasons to immediately rule out a psychological condition. If a carer doesn’t address a senior adult’s prolonged boredom, they’ll likely spiral into depression over time. After all, an elderly’s depression can come from not having enough meaningful things to do. Social isolation and lack of support are common causes as well.

Whether they have dementia or not, senior adults can experience depression for the same reasons. Also, the diseases that cause dementia can cause depression.

elderly woman on a wheel chair

If a client seems anxious instead of depressed, the carer should find out what their relationship with their family is like or if they’ve experienced serious health or financial issues before. Anxiety can root in family, health, and money troubles. It can also be hereditary, so if their family has a history of the condition, they’re more likely to develop it, too. And like depression, past trauma or upsetting events can also lead to anxiety.

Finally, apathy can have similar symptoms to depression, as it also makes an older person lose their motivation in doing the things they like. But in apathy, indifference is also observed. An apathetic elderly may display no emotion or detachment in response to certain news or personal events. In addition, if a depressed person feels hopeless, an apathetic person has no energy and doesn’t worry about their symptoms and other health problems.

How to Help

Carers can actually increase their skills to be able to support a client with a serious psychological condition. Though this isn’t required, it will help them understand mental health and illnesses better and allow them to provide the exact needs of their client.

Healthcare workers can take an online Care Certificate course to achieve this. This program covers up to 15 standards, including awareness of mental health, dementia, and learning disabilities. Taking this course is time- and cost-effective, so it won’t add to the stress of a carer’s daily duties.

If they want to switch careers, from a carer to an actual mental health professional, that’s also an ingenious way to help. Carers can go back to university or apply for an apprenticeship in the psychiatric field. If they choose to get a degree, it should be a degree in psychology or health and social care subjects. Then they should apply for a place on a postgraduate training course.

On the other hand, an apprenticeship requires a degree in a relevant subject like psychology or nursing. A job experience in the mental health field will also help.

Developing skills in mental health treatment helps carers raise awareness about psychological conditions among the elderly. With the estimated number of dementia cases worldwide at 44 million, which is predicted to double by 2030, the world really needs to be enlightened about senior adults’ mental health struggles.

The average cost of having dementia in the UK is £32,250 per person. It will blow up if the dementia is paired with a mental illness. So carers should step up and address the growing problem of poor mental health in the elderly population and help make the world a better place for the rest of their lives.

kid learning online

Online Music Lessons: How You Can Make Each Session Count

Taking online classes for any subject can be challenging, but for music classes, distance learning presents a new set of unique challenges. For one, taking music classes online means that your teacher can’t physically guide your fingers to the right note or easily show you how to hold your instrument properly. Moreover, there is a problem of latency that comes with online classes, and it can affect the quality of your learning to some extent.

Nevertheless, it is still very well possible to learn music online. Here are some great tips on how to make each lesson count:

1. Get familiar with the technology

If you’re a parent with a child taking piano lessons for kids online, for example, help them become familiar with the technology that is going to be used during lessons. Teach them how to use the controls on the video conferencing software (mute the mic, turn the camera on and off, etc.) and how to plug in their instrument (if it’s electric).

If you’re an adult taking music lessons, on the other hand, familiarize yourself with the tech you’re going to use, including the video conferencing software and any necessary accessories such as microphones, speakers, and amplifiers.

It is also a good idea to invest in high-quality accessories to increase sound quality. In this way, you’ll be able to hear your instructor well and they’ll be able to do the same on their end.

2. Prepare a learning area

Designate a quiet spot in your home as a learning area. This could be your bedroom, a corner in your kitchen, or the home office. This area should be away from the main living areas in your home so that other household members don’t disturb you during lessons. If possible, conduct lessons in the most soundproof room in the house with minimal noise coming in or out.

Furthermore, this area should have adequate lighting so that your instructor will be able to see you clearly on the camera. Natural light is the best, so sit beside a large window if possible. If not, sit in a room with adequate overhead lighting and use a lamp or ring light to eliminate shadows on your person.

It is also advisable to hang a sheet as a background if you can’t face the camera with the wall behind you. This will help avoid any distractions from family members or pets coming into view.

3. Wear noise-canceling headphones

Noise-canceling headphones can provide the best sound quality you can get, as opposed to using your desktop or laptop computer’s stock speakers. And for online music lessons, having the best sound quality is imperative to learning efficiently.

Aside from providing great sound quality, noise-canceling headphones also reduce distractions around you, which is especially useful if you live with other people or live in an area with lots of neighborhood noise.

kid taking piano lessons

4. Deal with latency

The time delay on video conferencing platforms makes it impossible for musicians to play at the same time online. No matter how in sync you and your instructor may be, there will still be a one or two-second delay in the sound that comes out of both of your speakers–yes, even if you have ultra-fast Internet.

The only solution for this is to play your instrument with the accompaniment playing on your end instead of the teacher’s. Doing this eliminates latency and allows your teacher to hear your instrument and the accompaniment at the same time. If your online music teacher is not yet aware of this trick, let them know when they tell you to play with an accompaniment.

5. Zoom in when necessary

If your instrument requires delicate finger movements, zoom in on your hands so that your teacher will be able to see what your fingers are doing, and thus will be able to offer you better guidance. Avoid moving the camera itself when not necessary to keep the set-up consistent–just zoom in the camera whenever you’re playing.

6. Practice, practice, practice

There’s only so much that music lessons can do, regardless if it’s online or not. In between lessons, make it a point to practice at least half an hour to an hour every day. Watch tutorials online and self-study. If there are certain difficulties that you can’t overcome on your own, ask your teacher for help during the next lesson.

Thanks to modern technology, taking music lessons is still possible amidst the pandemic. Although learning an instrument online can be much harder than taking in-person classes, there are many ways you can make online music lessons easier, starting with the tips mentioned above.