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Forums / Multicultural experiences / Is aging synonymous to depression, anxiety and mental illness?

Topic: Is aging synonymous to depression, anxiety and mental illness?

5 posts, 0 answered
  1. Donte'
    Multicultural Correspondent
    • Foundation members of our Multicultural Experiences section
    • Greece
    • LGBTI
    Donte' avatar
    845 posts
    6 February 2018

    Tonight I was reading some poetry of one of my favourite Greek Poets, Constantine Cavafy, born in Alexandria in 1863. One of my favourites of all time has been the 'Candles' for it encapsulates the experience of aging. Even though written in Greek, I found a translation that is close to the original text and I'd like to share it with you:

    'Days to come stand in front of us
    like a row of lighted candles—
    golden, warm, and vivid candles.

    Days gone by fall behind us,
    a gloomy line of snuffed-out candles;
    the nearest are smoking still,
    cold, melted, and bent.

    I don’t want to look at them: their shape saddens me,
    and it saddens me to remember their original light.
    I look ahead at my lighted candles.

    I don’t want to turn for fear of seeing, terrified,
    how quickly that dark line gets longer,
    how quickly the snuffed-out candles proliferate.'


    Translated by Edmund Keeley/Philip Sherrard


    (C.P. Cavafy, Collected Poems. Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Edited by George Savidis. Revised Edition. Princeton University Press, 1992)

    How is aging viewed in your culture? How do elderly get treated in your country of origin or your community here in Australia? And is there a link between aging and mental illness? How do people in your circle deal with their mortality or the mortality of their loved ones? How do you view the end of life through your cultural or spiritual lenses?

    Many culturally and linguistically diverse elderly experience loss and grief, depression, anxiety and/or other mental illnesses without necessarily having a diagnosis. Many may not be aware that this is not a normal part of aging. Often medications prescribed for various other conditions can cause depression as a side-effect.

    Is there someone you know that has been affected by depression, anxiety and/or other illnesses but doesn't realise it? Hasn't been diagnosed? Or perhaps their cultural and religious beliefs stop them from asking for help? How can you support them? How do you start a conversation around this often 'taboo' topic?

    I'd like to hear your perspectives....


    1 person found this helpful
  2. quirkywords
    Community Champion
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    quirkywords avatar
    14389 posts
    11 February 2018 in reply to Donte'

    Donte

    To answer your title question as some ho as just turned 60, I certainly hope not!!

    I think we need to see old age in a positive light and not dwell on all the things we cant do but what we can offer to others.

    An elderly cousin years ago told me she saw old age as a gift because most of he family and friends never got to live to old age because of atrocities in world war 11. She said it was an honour to age and she never complained about her health as her family was not allowed to grow old.

    In cultures where old people are revered and treated as wise treasures, I wonder if tere is less depression in these communities.

    Quirky

    1 person found this helpful
  3. Donte'
    Multicultural Correspondent
    • Foundation members of our Multicultural Experiences section
    • Greece
    • LGBTI
    Donte' avatar
    845 posts
    11 February 2018 in reply to quirkywords

    Hello Quirkywords,

    What a lovely attitude your cousin had! Indeed every day is a gift - The present! In australia today life expectancy has increased by a decade! Average life span is 80+ years versus 70 years back in the 50's. This is due to multiple medications and various treatments. However, it makes one wonder about the quality of life and particularly wellbeing and mental health.

    I had a discussion with an elderly neighbour the other day who said that in his country he wouldn't have aged all alone like here. He would be surrounded by his children and grandchildren and great grandchildren as they all tend to live in the same household or upstairs or next door. It is not uncommon he told me for three generations of people to live together. He added that the more affluent we are the more independent and isolated we become.

  4. J.M.12345
    Multicultural Correspondent
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    • Lebanon
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    J.M.12345 avatar
    46 posts
    12 February 2018 in reply to Donte'

    Hi Donte' and Quirky,

    Ageing can be difficult and isolating in some cases, but in my family, the elderly are treated with respect and as family is of huge importance, consistent effort is made to include the elderly in family activities and take care of their mental wellbeing. In saying that, I have noticed from my experience working in a hospital with mostly geriatric patients that many do suffer from mental illnesses like depression. I imagine this may be linked with the increase in physical illnesses at an old age (hospital visits aren't exactly pleasant) as well as the decreased ability for independence which may feel stifling and, as Donte' mentioned, maybe even side effects from all the medication. Because of all the other physical illnesses, it may be tempting to view the mental health of these patients as secondary, but I think not only is mental health important in itself, but it also impacts physical health and recovery, so staff and families need to ensure that depression and anxiety in the elderly is not ignored or put on the back burner.

    Josette

    1 person found this helpful
  5. Donte'
    Multicultural Correspondent
    • Foundation members of our Multicultural Experiences section
    • Greece
    • LGBTI
    Donte' avatar
    845 posts
    12 February 2018 in reply to J.M.12345

    Hi J.M.

    I agree. Self-care is of utmost importance for carers, family members and staff. Unless we look after ourself we won't be in a position to help others. :)

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