Today is World Mental Health Day, and I’m pleased to be participating once again in the World Mental Health Day Blog Party. I’ve been “partying” since the beginning, and you can read my 2011 and 2012 posts if you’re interested.
The theme of World Mental Health Day, 2013 is “Mental health and older adults”. Since I blog about obsessive-compulsive disorder, I naturally figured I’d write about OCD in older adults. I’ve been sitting here at the computer for a while, pondering the issue and doing a little research, and I realize I know little to nothing about OCD in the elderly. Furthermore, I haven’t been able to find any studies, articles, or facts to enlighten me. There’s plenty of information available on OCD in children, teens, young adults, and even adults. But then it stops. What about OCD in older adults?
A few thoughts come to mind. Maybe OCD wanes as the senior years approach and the disorder is seldom an issue? Or better yet, it rarely exists? They’re nice thoughts, and I’d like to think they’re true. Or maybe OCD can become so tangled up in other illnesses such as dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease that it goes unnoticed and undiagnosed? Which brings up other questions. How common is it to develop OCD in old age? Or is it more likely that seniors with OCD have been suffering from the disorder for many years? Is ERP therapy and/or medication helpful for the elderly? I could go on and on with the questions. I just don’t have the answers.
Unless I’m missing a plethora of information out there, I don’t like what this says about us, as a society. The elderly aren’t as important as the rest of us. Why study a group of people who are nearing the end of their lives?
That question I have the answer to. Because we might be able to help them and improve the quality of their lives. Because any research on OCD just might benefit everyone who has the disorder. Because “the elderly” are our mothers, fathers, grandparents, friends, and neighbors. Because one day, if we live long enough, we will be them.
I’d love to hear from anyone who is able to share some insight on OCD in older adults.
My next post will appear the week of October 21, after I return from the OCD Texas Conference. Have a good week, everyone!