Mental disorders in the elderly

Elderly people usually develop many complaints and often need to live with it with the help of medicines. The persisting nature of disease and dependency of medicines can make them deteriorate further in mental health which impinge on hope. Good quality of life is very much essential in old age or otherwise more than enduring suffering themselves, they will also become a burden to the family. It is fear of disease that makes them take the prescribed medicines.

They are also often affected by mental stress and sleeplessness because of their anxiety, expectations (love/finance for survival) and fear about the future. It can also reflect in their blood pressure, appetite, attention, activities, etc. While getting treatment, they are very keen to have sleeping pills to have sound sleep (to forget all their worries at least in sleep). Sleeping pills are really a boon for them. But with habit forming and continuous usage, adverse effects like forgetfulness, lack of concentration, confusion, tremors, weakness, dizziness, hallucinations, slow heartbeat, constipation, etc., are inevitable. If they are not able to cope with the circumstances, in course of time, they may also develop mind disorders like depression, mania, etc. Further, even without stress, memory-related disorders can occur in elderly people because of atrophy of brain with ageing or due to mind/memory disorders like amnesia or dementia.

Common mind disorders in elderly people are mood disorders, personality-related mental illness, schizophrenia, psychotic disorder, major depressive disorder and bipolar disorders.

Anxiety disorders - Anxiety is an unpleasant emotional feeling triggered by anticipation of/fears of future events with memories of past events or rumination about the self.

Nightmare disorder – Dream anxiety disorder with intensified fearful dreams.

Panic disorders – are sudden attacks with accelerated or irregular heartbeats, shortness of breath, dizziness, etc. It is often caused with unreasonable intensified fear (i.e., with or without specific cause) and anxiety.

Post-traumatic stress disorder - is a complex disorder in which affected person's memory, emotional responses, intellectual processes and nervous system have all been disrupted by one or more traumatic experiences. It is sometimes summarised as “a normal reaction to abnormal events”.

Delusion – A status of recurrent/persistent thought(s)/belief(s) which are really false.

Hallucination - is a false perception occurring without any identifiable external stimulus and indicates an abnormality in perception in the form of voices, smells, tastes, vision and touch sensations.


Delirium – a status of disorientation accompanied by cognitive impairment and fluctuating consciousness.

Hypochondrias – is medically meant for excessive fear of having a serious disease. These fears are not relieved even after medical examination/lab reports reveal no evidence of any disease or abnormal values.

Depression - unipolar depression are mental illnesses characterised by a profound and persistent feeling of sadness or despair and/or a loss of interest in things that were once pleasurable. Bipolar disorder (manic depression) involves abnormally “high” or pressured mood states, known as mania or hypomania, alternating with normal or depressed mood.

Memory-related disorders

  • Amnesia – means partial or total loss of memory. Forgetfulness is medically termed as amnesia (i.e. loss of memory). It may be also because of inattentiveness or lack of interest or due to brain dysfunctions also.
  • Dementia – medically means declining memory. It may be rapid or have slow progression. Sufferers of dementia often miss their keys, umbrellas during start-up of the disease and later with progression of disease, they may get disoriented with way, place and can forget well-known persons, etc.
  • Alzheimer's disease – is a progressive and degenerative disease of brain cells to cause forgetfulness. It can be called as mind destructive disorder since it slowly destroys one’s intelligence, skill, memory, thinking, personality, cleanliness, etc. Sometimes, they may even not be able to recognise their family members or themselves.

General treatment – In old age, one needs love and care than medicines. i.e., for them, family care is worth more than medical treatment or medicines. Further, as there is no treatment for ageing, currently, there is no specific treatment for memory loss or forgetfulness in the elderly. If they have more anxiety and depression, antidepressants will be prescribed.

Homeopathic approach – Mind or memory problems can cause many conflicts in life, since they can make one or other take wrong decisions or become irritable at times. So, memory problems should be treated in the initial stage itself to have peaceful environment. Some mind disorders are reversible and some may not be reversible. Further, most of the time, treatment can only halt the progress of complaints. So, it is always worthwhile to start treatment in the early stage itself. In mind disorders of elderly people, hope should always be given and never be given up.

“Cure rarely, comfort mostly, but console always”, as Hippocrates says, every doctor, irrespective of the system, needs to calm the sufferer’s mind with his reassuring words, and cure their diseases with their knowledge and medicines. Generally, in spite of proper care in all aspects i.e., taking healthy diet, health drinks, supplements like antioxidants, there will be failing memory in the elderly which is quite common because of atrophy of brain. Even though there is no promising cure, Homeopathy can provide some hope to the sufferer and their family members as most constitutionally selected homeopathic medicine can rejuvenate brain to remain in endurance without any side-effects.

Homeopathic medicines commonly used in mind disorders in elderly person are Aconite, Ambra grisea, Anacardium, Arg nit, Ars alb, Aurum met, Baryta carb, Belladonna, Bryonia, Caladium, Cal carb, Cannabis indica, Clematis, Conium, Cuprum met, Gelsemium, Hyoscyamus, Ignatia, Lachesis, Lycopodium, Nat mur, Nux vom, Opium, Pulsatilla, Phosphorus, Sepia, Silicea, Staphysagria, Stramonium, Sulphur, Zinc met, etc. Bach’s flower remedies like Aspen, Chestnut bud, Mimulus, Red chestnut, Scleranthus, Thuja, Vervain, White chestnut, etc., can also provide amazing results. These medicines can facilitate one’s mind in a better way to cope with the situation. These medicines should be taken under the advice and diagnosis of a qualified Homoeopath.


for new hope
M.D (Hom)

Website - www.drcheena.in
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(Disclaimer - The contents of this column are for informational purpose only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional healthcare advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of healthcare professional for any health problem or medical condition.)

Dec 22, 2011
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