You are currently viewing Expert Advice for Older Adults New to Mental Health Care

Expert Advice for Older Adults New to Mental Health Care

February 2, 2023

There are many older adults who may be experiencing new mental health conditions and have never connected with a mental health care provider and may be reluctant to move forward.



Here are 6 pieces of expert advice that I share with older adults new to the mental health space.



Expert advice for older adults new to mental health care

Get Care Immediately

My first order of advice is get care immediately. Don’t put it off. You’re experiencing more suffering than you need to. What we know is that mental health conditions are highly treatable in older adults, but when mental health conditions go untreated, this can have a significant impact on your health, finances, and relationships. You don’t have to do this alone. So get connected to care here.



Start with your primary care provider.

If you’re noticing depressive symptoms, it’s important to connect with your primary care provider to rule out any medical condition or medications that could be creating mental health symptoms. Sometimes mental health symptoms can simply be corrected in the doctor’s office.


Shake Off Stigma

There’s a lot of stigma about seeing a mental health provider, especially for older adults. Therapy and the focus on mental health and wellness wasn’t as prominent in previous years. I have heard from many older adults that they fear being deemed as “crazy” if they engage in mental health care. And there is a harmful idea that depression is shameful or a moral weakness, which also keeps people from asking for help. It’s really important to shake off the stigma that’s keeping you out of care. Depression, anxiety, sleep problems, substance use disorders are as treatable in older adults as they are in other age groups. Take the next step and find a mental health provider here. 


Familiarize yourself with different types of mental health providers

It also can help to familiarize yourself with the different mental health providers who treat older adults. Do you want to work with a therapist and do talk therapy? Do you want to talk to a psychiatrist about antidepressant medications? It’s really up to you, how you want to approach it. And there are many options. Learn more about the mental health providers who work with older adults here.


Know that mental health conditions are highly treatable

For older adults, mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, and substance use disorders benefit from treatment at the same rates as other adult age groups,  but you have to get into mental health care to get them treated and to ease that suffering.

Untreated substance abuse and mental health problems among older adults, are associated with poor health outcomes, such as:

  • More frequent use of the healthcare system
  • Increased complexity of the course and prognosis of many medical problems
  • Increased disability and impairment
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Increased caregiver stress
  • Increased mortality
  • Higher risk of suicide


Just give it a try.

The worst that will happen is that you’re just right back where you started, but the best that could happen is you connect with a mental health provider. You hit it off. And you’re back to living your best life or even a better life than the one you were living before. So don’t put it off. You’re not alone. You don’t have to do it alone. There’s mental health care available. Find a mental health provider today. 



Are you a professional looking to enhance your work with older adults? Check out our Online Continuing Education courses.  Older adult or family member looking for mental health providers? Visit our directory of mental health professionals and find a provider today. 


Regina Koepp, PsyD, ABPP

Dr. Regina Koepp is a board certified clinical psychologist, clinical geropsychologist, and founder and director of the Center for Mental Health & Aging: the “go to” place online for mental health and aging. She is currently the lead medical psychologist at University of Vermont Medical Center. Dr. Koepp is a sought after speaker on the topics of mental health and aging, caregiving, ageism, resilience, sexual health and aging, intimacy in the context of life altering Illness, and dementia and sexual expression. Learn more about Dr. Regina Koepp here.