Impact of Societal Interaction in Maintenance of Mental Health of Geriatric Patients
A plethora of physical and mental health issues exist in the elderly population, all across the world. The geriatric population is susceptible to various physical and mental ailments which significantly increases the burden of illness and compromises their quality of life. They are susceptible to cardiovascular problems, neurological deficits, osteoporosis and fractures, and finally towards an array of psychiatric disorders. Such disorders include depression, panic disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorders.
The geriatric population is a neglected and under-cared population in our society, and should be given due consideration. Especially issues like psychiatric disorders create a social stigma, which keeps the society away from interacting with them. This article will focus on the probable importance of societal interaction in alleviating psychiatric illness that may aid in improving the quality of their life.
Understanding the Individual
It is very common to diagnose psychiatric ailment in an individual, and various tailor-made approaches are implemented including pharmacological and non-pharmacological to alleviate such conditions. The psychiatrists and psychologists provide their best possible interventions to alleviate the episodes of mental illness in such individuals to improve their quality of life. Various types of antipsychotics like antidepressants, anti-anxiolytics are routinely prescribed by the physicians as a part of routine pharmacologic interventions. On the other hand psychologists intervene with various cognitive behavioral therapies either as supportive treatment in adjunct to pharmacological interventions or independently to address the issue of mental illness.
However, we often fail to understand the reasons for such behavior.Hence, silently such issues prevail in that individual even after pharmacological or nonpharmacological interventions. I strongly believe that if the cause of mental illness and depression is not addressed, the symptoms of psychiatric illness will continue to prevail in such an individual.
The geriatric patients who are bothered by psychiatric illness exhibit various types of behavior and present with non-specific symptoms. Such behaviors include irritability, desire for self-harm, euthanasia along with various physical problems. These include hyperacidity, repetitive behavior and perturbed nature as signs of stress. These individuals are often unhappy and cannot find happiness in their immediate world.
There can be various root causes of psychiatric ailments in a geriatric individual. Such causes may be organic or social. Organic causes indicate a chronic recovery from a disease, or a chronic set of physical illness which is debilitating and induces movement restrictions or it may be a comorbid effect of both the conditions. On the other hand social issues include bereavement due to loss of family, forsaken by their children, society and other family members, lack of social interaction or lack of interaction with peers, domination by family members and weak financial conditions.
Case Study: A Reflection
The case study that I would present is about my aunt. She is aged 82 years and stays alone in her apartment. She was a school teacher and was very active and famed during her days. She was liked by various students and her peers, due to her personality for her involvement in various co-curricular activities. Her initiatives included arranging plays and drama, with her peer and her students. Her spouse died some 15 years ago and she is not inherited by any child of her own. We were called upon by the hospital authorities, as she suffered from a sudden fall and was contacted to the emergency services through the hotline numbers. She mentioned that she was absent minded while fetching some drink and slipped off on the floor. I would lie to rewind the case study with incidences, which happened few years back. When she visited our home or we went to meet her she was always very gloomy over the past five years and liked our company.
However, due to our busy schedule we could not afford such quality time with her. Very often she complained of various physical ailments and was carried to the day care centers, however, she continued to present with such symptoms and received psychotic treatments with pharmacological agents. She never received any psycho-counseling treatments.
Coming back to her present condition, I noticed that she was fairly interacting with us and jovially expressed herself with other members of the family. She was in pain and was managed with opioids and sedatives. In spite of such debilitating condition, she was comfortable with our company. The attending physician explained to us that she was recovering fast and could be released in a day or two. We shared the news with her and she was quite indifferent and untouched by the news of her probable release from the hospital. Listening to the news she exclaimed “At least hospital was better for me, so many people came to visit me, I could talk…” Such an exclamation touched my heart, and I felt for her solitariness and depression.
I decided that I would extend a possible gesture in association with my family members. First of all, I ensured that she reached home safely, and then I started visiting her place once in a week, and she was very happy by my presence. I shared my feelings and empathized with her condition. She mentioned that she could not accept the passing away of Uncle due to lung cancer and was engraved in his thoughts. Perhaps, such a situation was responsible for her accidental fall. I informed my family members to meet her often, whenever possible. I was successful in motivating my family members to follow my action steps. Moreover, I contacted the resident’s office in her apartment premises and asked for community help to involve her in various cultural activities organized by the apartment committee. My success was evident because after six months, her dose of sedatives was reduced to half.
The case study opened my eyes regarding the needs and desires of such geriatric individuals. These individuals are not only lonely and suffer from insecurity but they also want to contribute to the societal interactions and feel left out when they are not provided such opportunities. It is not only the passing away of my uncle that led her to depression but the additional factors like lack of social interactions decreased participation in community programs and neglect from near and dear ones all accounted for her mental situation.
Family support is one of the essential coping strategies to combat stress and depression. This was evident from my case study too. Moreover, society has an active role to play in taking care of these geriatric individuals. Societal interactions have shown to increase the physical and mental strength of individuals. The society we live in is a cultured and compassionate society. Such a society is capable of developing certain values like ensuring respect for individuals, community co-operation in aiding day to day activities especially to them who are physically and mentally compromised (Pike, McGuire, & Hetherington, 1996)..
These values are extremely in ensuring the peace of mind of such geriatric individuals. Social interactions help to combat neglect or economical challenges and restore the dignity and self-respect of an individual. The society represents the immediate environment in which one lives and is brought up (Collishaw, Maughan & Goodmann, 2004). It is very heartbreaking when the same society discards us due to our physical or mental disabilities.
We are all human beings, and being human beings we must be considerate and compassionate regarding the feelings of other members of our family or our society. We should extend our hands towards these geriatric individuals and it is because of their contribution we have seen the light of this beautiful world. A touch of empathy, a little bit of compromise, a little bit of quality time spent with them means so much to them. Involving them in our societal structure will help in developing coping strategies spontaneously. Yes medications and interventions are there and will be there, may be with more benefits and improved toleration profile. However, the best medicine for them will always be the company of their near and dear ones and the neighbors who stay in their vicinity. These individuals deserve much better than what they are presently being offered both regarding care and regarding tangible necessities.
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