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Bipolar Disorder in Older Adults

Bipolar disorder usually targets individuals aged 15-24, but the disorder can definitely appear in older adults as well. While the exact number of older adults with bipolar disorder isn’t known, studies show that 1 in 10 new cases of bipolar disorder occur in adults over 50.

How Common is Bipolar Disorder in Older Adults?

The Veteran’s Administration has collected the following data on bipolar disorder and older adults:

  • 25% of patients treated for bipolar disorder at VA hospitals were 65 or older
  • 6% of older patients with bipolar disorder were only recently diagnosed
  • 41% of individuals aged 18-70 did not notice their bipolar disorder symptoms until they were 40
  • Women are two times as likely to exhibit symptoms than men when bipolar disorder appears in adults over 50

Bipolar Symptoms in Older Adults

  • Confusion
  • Psychosis
  • Hyperactivity
  • Memory Problems
  • Perception and Judgement Loss
  • Problem Solving Difficulty

What Should Caregivers Watch Out for?

Bipolar disorder often goes undiagnosed in older adults because many mental illnesses and side effects of medications mimic bipolar disorder. Caregivers should watch out for:

  • Dementia
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Brain Tumors
  • Corticosteroids
  • Antidepressants

Caregivers are not licensed to give diagnoses. It’s important for caregivers to advise the family member of their client to contact a licensed healthcare provider if they are seeing bipolar disorder symptoms. When attempting to diagnose bipolar disorder in older adults, it’s vital that a complete list of previous diagnoses for other mental illnesses and prescribed medications are discussed with a healthcare professional.

Taking care of an older loved one with bipolar disorder can be draining, and there’s no shame in hiring a caregiver. Contact Cypress HomeCare today if you’re in need of a caregiver for your loved one.

Posted on June 1, 2019