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22 Stunning Elderly Mental Health Statistics

By Blog

Awareness of mental health issues has increased massively in the last few years, and we now have more elderly mental health statistics than ever. Events like World Mental Health Day have encouraged more open conversations about mental health issues. While there is still a long way to go, people are more accepting of mental health conditions, and they are taken more seriously than they have been in the past. 

Unfortunately, there is a misconception that mental health issues only affect younger people, but elderly mental health statistics tell a different story. 

Governments are allocating more resources to mental health programs so that it is easier for people to access treatments. However, these resources are often aimed at younger people, and elderly people with mental health issues are mostly neglected. 

It is important to look at senior citizens’ mental health statistics to understand how common mental health conditions affect the older generation and how to deal with those problems. Below, you will find statistics about mental health in older people and the specific issues they face.

Top Five Senior Citizens Mental Health Statistics

  • People older than 60 made up 12.3% of the population in 2015
  • Approximately 15% of adults over 60 suffer from a mental disorder
  • 6-13% of elderly people are often or always lonely
  • 7% of older people suffer from depression
  • Generalized anxiety disorder is the most common mental health issue in elderly people.

Aging Population Statistics

To understand anxiety and depression in elderly statistics, it is first important to consider what percentage of the overall population is elderly. 

1. In 2015, people older than 60 made up 12.3% of the global population. 

The number of elderly people is increasing, and the percentage of people older than 60 is expected to rise to 21.3% by 2030. These estimates are calculated using a number of factors. The current population figures are combined with analysis of the population trends to give an estimate of what the population may look like in the future.

As the population ages, the number of age-related health issues will increase as well. It is likely that the mental health crisis in the elderly will also worsen unless there would be changes in the way that mental health problems are dealt with. 

2. The number of people older than 85 is expected to double by 2041.

Currently, seniors over 85 make up 2% of the population, but this figure is expected to double to 4% by 2041. By 2066, it is estimated to be around 6%. 

This increase in the average age of the population is down to two main factors. First, life expectancy is improving as medical treatments advance. Secondly, people tend to have children later in life compared to the previous generation. 

As the average age of the population increases, mental health problems in older adults are likely to become worse.

Mental Health Statistics By Age Group

3. 13.1% of patients diagnosed with a mental health illness were over the age of 50.

Of all the people diagnosed with a mental health issue in 2017, 25.8% of them were aged 18-25, 22.2% were aged 26-49, and 13.1% were aged over 50. 

This data was drawn from the 2017 National Survey on Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. All mental health issues that are currently diagnosable or diagnosable within the last year are included in the statistics. This means all severity levels of mental illness. 

4. 2.7% of serious mental health diagnoses were attributed to people older than 50.

A serious mental illness is defined as an emotional, mental, or behavioral disorder that substantially interferes with a person’s major life activities. The number of adults in the US that had a serious mental illness was estimated to be 11.2 million or 4.5% of the population in 2017. 

Out of those, 7.5% were aged 18-25, 5.6% were aged 26-49, and 2.7% were aged 50 or older. 

5. People older than 50 receive the most treatment for mental health issues.

Of those that were diagnosed with a mental health illness, the age group that received the most treatment were aged 50+, with 75.6% of them seeking treatment. Figures for other generations include 66.2% of 26-49-year-olds and 57.4% of 18-25-year-olds. 

This may be a result of financial pressures because younger people may not have health insurance to cover mental health treatments. Elderly people spend more time at the doctor’s office, so issues are more likely to be picked up.

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Statistics About Mental Health Issues In The Elderly

6. Approximately 15% of adults over 60 suffer from a mental disorder.

Statistics of elderly adults with mental health disorders from the World Health Organization suggest that 15% of people over the age of 60 have some form of mental disorder. This encompasses different types of mental illness in elderly people like anxiety and depression, as well as less common issues like eating or personality disorders. 

7. 1% of people over 60 have substance abuse issues.

Substance abuse issues are often tied to wider mental health problems, but they are often associated with younger people. However, 1% of elderlies over 60 have a substance abuse problem. 

Misusing alcohol and drugs can also exacerbate mental health issues, so substance abuse is one of the risk factors for mental health problems among older adults. These substance abuse issues are often misdiagnosed in elderly people. 

Elderly Loneliness Statistics

8. 2 million people aged 75 and over in the UK live alone. 

Around 3.6 million people in the UK live alone, and 2 million of them are over the age of 75. This is a potential issue because loneliness can be a contributing factor in psychosocial issues in elderly people. 

A study carried out by Age UK found that 1.9 million elderly people reported feeling ignored or invisible. The study compared the health impact of this fact to smoking 15 cigarettes per day. 

9. 6-13% of elderly people are often or always lonely.

Loneliness is common in elderly people, but the majority of people do not report feelings of loneliness at all times. However, the Age UK study found that between 6-13% of elderly people reported feeling lonely most or all of the time. It is also believed that this number could be an underestimate. 

The study also found that somebody in poor physical health was 10 times more likely to feel lonely than somebody that is in excellent health. 

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Depression In Older Adults Statistics

Depression can affect people of all ages, and older people are no exception. These are some of the most important geriatric depression statistics to give you more insight into depression in the elderly population

10. 7% of older people suffer from depression. 

Elderly depression statistics show that 7% of the older population globally suffer from depression. 

The burden of disease is a measure of the resources that are used to treat diseases. Depression in the elderly facts show that 5.7% of that burden is attributed to depression when compared to the full elderly diseases list.

Anxiety In Elderly People

11. Generalized anxiety disorder is the most common mental health issue in elderly people.

The senior citizen statistics for mental health estimate that 7% of elderly people suffer from generalized anxiety disorder, making it the most common mental health issue amongst the elderly. It is estimated that anxiety affects twice as many older adults as depression. 

It is normal for older adults to worry about things like their finances or deteriorating health, but older adults with generalized anxiety disorder will worry about routine events and activities over a prolonged period of six months or more. 

12. One in five believes that anxiety worsens with age. 

A survey carried out by Age UK, reported on the NHS website, found that one in five elderly people find that anxiety gets worse with age. They believe that they have a lifetime diagnosis of anxiety disorder that they will not be able to deal with. 

13. One in four finds it hard to talk to younger people about anxiety.

The same study found that elderly people suffering from anxiety do not feel comfortable talking about it with younger family members or friends. This is partly due to the fact that anxiety was not a recognized condition when they were growing up, and they see it as a sign of weakness. 

This reluctance to talk about the issue means that there are an estimated 8 million people over the age of 55 with undiagnosed anxiety, and it can contribute to overall misdiagnosed mental illness statistics.

Sexuality And Mental Health In Elderly People

14. Only 0.6% of people older than 65 identify as a sexual minority.

In the Integrated House Survey carried out in the UK in 2014, only 0.6% of people over the age of 65 identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or any other sexual minority. There is a distinct lack of coming out later in life statistics, so the number of sexual minorities amongst the older population is likely to be a lot higher. 

There are a few contributing factors to the low numbers of elderly people that identify as a sexual minority. Growing up in a time when these sexual identities were stigmatized and classified as mental illness may cause them to hide those identities. Unfortunately, this could lead to an increased risk of mental health issues. 

15. Elderly sexual minorities are more likely to live alone. 

In 2010, LGBT rights group Stonewall commissioned YouGov to carry out a survey into the experiences of sexual minorities over the age of 55 in the UK. They also surveyed a number of heterosexual people over the age of 55 to compare the results. 

The senior citizens’ statistics from the survey showed that people were more likely to live alone if they were a sexual minority. It also found that they were less likely to have children and see family members on a regular basis. 

This may be a result of the stigma around alternative sexual identities that older people faced when growing up. They are less likely to have come out when they were younger, which can make it a lot harder to form long-term relationships.

Loneliness is a big contributing factor to elderly mental health statistics, and it is likely that this will be a more common issue amongst sexual minorities. 

Statistics On Elderly Veterans And Mental Health

16. Over 1.7 million US veterans received treatment for mental health disorders in 2018. 

The US Department of Veteran Affairs set up a treatment program for veterans that are dealing with mental health issues. Veterans mental health statistics indicate that during the fiscal year of 2018, the program treated over 1.7 million veterans for a wide range of mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

Veterans are more likely to have access to treatment than non-veterans because they are considered high risk. This means that medical professionals will be more vigilant and more likely to point them in the direction of mental health treatment services. 

17. Older veterans are not more likely to have anxiety and depression than non-veterans.

Veterans have been exposed to more trauma and stressful situations, so it is assumed that they would have higher levels of anxiety and depression. However, a study carried out by the Veterans Association, in conjunction with Stanford University, found that the opposite was true. The prevalence of depression in elderly men does not differ hugely, whether they are veterans or not. A lot of veterans actually had lower rates of depression and anxiety. 

The results showed that 11% of veterans reported increased levels of depression compared to 12.8% of non-veterans. Levels of anxiety in veterans were 9.9%, but in non-veterans, they were 12.3%. 

However, Vietnam veterans were found to be more than twice as likely to have issues with anxiety and depression than World War Two or Korean War veterans. The researchers could not explain this finding and stated that further studies need to be carried out. 

18. PTSD increases suicide risk in veterans. 

When veterans are suffering from PTSD, they experience anxiety sensitivity. This is a fear of experiencing the symptoms of anxiety, rather than having the actual symptoms themselves. Veterans with PTSD often worry that their personality has changed as a result of their condition or that they are not thinking normally. This can, in turn, lead to an increase in suicidal thoughts and feelings. 

19. PTSD and anxiety in veterans increase the chance of homelessness. 

Researchers from the New England branch of Veteran Affairs and The Yale School of Medicine did a study on 300,000 veterans that had previously been treated for anxiety or PTSD. Their findings showed that 5.6% of them experienced homelessness within a year of treatment. This is high in comparison to the average homelessness rate for veterans over a five-year period, which is 3.7%. 

The study also found that veterans that had been diagnosed with a drug abuse issue were more than twice as likely to end up homeless.

Elderly Suicide Facts

20. Elderly people make up 18% of all suicide deaths in the US.

Although elderly people only make up 12% of the total population, they account for 18% of all suicide deaths. This is an alarming figure because the elderly are also the fastest growing population segment.

Issues around community agencies may be a potential reason for the high suicide rate. These agencies tend to aim for self-sufficiency in the patients that they serve. That means they let patients control the flow of information and only intervene when they are asked. As a result, elderly people with suicidal thoughts can easily hide the problem. 

21. Elder suicide may be underreported by 40% or more. 

The statistics on elder suicide can be difficult to analyze because there are issues with underreporting. Deaths from overdoses, starvation, or dehydration often go unreported. These ‘silent suicides’ could potentially increase the elder suicide rate statistics by 40% or more. 

22. Double suicides involving spouses or partners occur most frequently among the elderly. 

Even those elderly people who do not suffer from loneliness still face a lot of mental health issues. It is common for elderly couples to carry out double suicides. People tend to view youth suicide as a bigger issue than elderly suicide, so there are fewer resources to prevent it. 

If one half of a couple is experiencing suicidal thoughts, their partner may be able to alert the authorities and help them to get treatment. However, if they are both experiencing suicidal thoughts, they do not have the safety net, and their suicidal feelings may exacerbate one another. 


What mental health issues are common in the elderly population?

According to the CDC mental health statistics, the most common mental health issues for elderly people are anxiety, severe cognitive impairment, and mood disorders such as depression. The most prevalent mental health issue is depression, which is often linked to suicide. 

Men aged 85 and over have a suicide rate of 45.23 per 100,000, compared to an average rate of 11.01 per 100,000 for all ages. This means that elderly men have the highest rates of suicide. Although some people consider mental health issues a natural part of aging, studies show that 80% of depression cases in elderly people are treatable. 

Which age group has the highest rate of mental health problems?

The rate of mental health differs significantly between age groups. Statistics show that people aged 18-25 have the highest rate of mental health issues (25.8% of all diagnosed mental health issues). This is possibly due to financial pressures like student debt and the cost of living. 

Younger people also tend to be more aware of mental health issues, and they are more likely to seek treatment than the older generation.

Do older adults suffer from mental disorders at the same rate as younger Americans?

No, older adults do not suffer from mental disorders at the same rate as younger Americans. People aged 18-25 have the highest rates of diagnosed mental disorders. Those aged 26-49 have slightly lower levels of mental disorders (22.2%). The older population actually has the lowest rate of diagnosed mental disorders (only 13.1%). 

However, these statistics may be an underestimate because older people are less likely to seek treatment for mental health issues. 

What are some signs of insanity?

Insanity statistics cover a wide range of serious mental disorders. The main signs of insanity include feeling sad or down a lot of the time, excessive fears or guilt about certain things, and severe fatigue. Insanity may also cause a lot of confusion, difficulty concentrating, and violent mood swings. 

Unfortunately, symptoms like confusion are often overlooked in elderly people because people consider it a natural part of aging, which may contribute to psychiatric misdiagnosis statistics in older people. 

Why mental health issues are not addressed in the elderly? 

There are a few different reasons why mental health issues are not addressed in the elderly. Misdiagnosis is a big problem because things like confusion or lack of focus are put down to aging and ignored. Older people also grew up in a time when mental health issues were not recognized, which means that they are less likely to report the issues they are having. 

However, as awareness of mental health issues increases, particularly amongst the elderly, their mental health challenges will be addressed more effectively. 

What percentage of people over the age of 65 show some symptoms of a psychological disorder?

Estimates from the NHS suggest that around 10.2% of people over the age of 65 display some symptoms of a psychological disorder. In some cases, this may be mild symptoms of anxiety or depression. However, it also covers more serious mental health disorders and insanity in elderly people. 

What is the relationship between age and anxiety in the elderly?

Generalized anxiety disorder in the elderly is a common problem (7% of older people suffer from anxiety). Unfortunately, treatment rates for anxiety in elderly people are not promising for a number of reasons. 

Firstly, a lot of elderly people are accepting of their anxiety and believe that it is just something that they have to live with. A quarter of elderly people also report that they feel uncomfortable speaking to younger people about their anxiety, so they are not likely to tell their family that they have an anxiety issue. 

What is the main difference between the way younger and older people respond to stress? 

A study by North Carolina State University found that there is a big difference in the way that older and younger people predict and respond to stress, particularly at home. The results show that older people are better at predicting stressful events and preparing themselves for them. 

However, older adults are not as good at using those predictions to reduce the impact of stress. While younger people are less prepared for stress, they can manage it better when stressful events do occur. This may mean that elderly people are more prone to stress-related mental health issues. 

What is the most prevalent health problem of persons over the age of 65?

While mental health issues are a big problem for older people, they are not the most prevalent health problem for those aged over 65. The biggest health issue that faces this age group right now is heart disease. It is responsible for one in four total deaths in the US and is the biggest killer of people over 65. 


The facts and figures about older people’s mental health can be difficult to interpret. It is less common for elderly people to undergo a geriatric mental health assessment than it is for a younger person to seek advice. That means that social health statistics for elderly people may not be accurate because their mental health problems are less likely to be diagnosed. 

Doctors are often reluctant to give an elderly person a lifetime diagnosis of depression, and it may be overlooked, especially if they have other cognitive issues. 

However, these statistics about the mental health crisis among the elderly can give us a good insight into the scale of the problem and some of the causes. Loneliness is a big reason for the prevalence of depression in elderly people, and a reluctance to speak about it can exacerbate the problem. 

These statistics are all taken from organizations that carry out research and write their own depression in the elderly articles to help educate people about the problem. Now that you have a clearer picture of the issue, you can scan through these elderly mental health statistics again and easily pick out the information that you need.

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