Aging Studies Professor Addresses Myths About Mental Health Among Older Adults

School of Aging Studies professor Victor Molinari, an expert on mental health and aging, spoke at the National Conference of State Legislatures summit meeting in Tampa recently. He was part of a symposium called “From Zero to 65-plus: A High-Speed Look at Mental Health Across the Life Span.” It involved experts on mental health for all ages, with Dr. Molinari providing his expertise on mental health among older adults. He addressed the predominant myths that all older people have dementia and suffer from depression. Neither is true. In fact, the vast majority of people 65 and older do not have dementia, and rates of depression are comparable to younger adult rates. Depression and dementia can be high among nursing home residents, which means funding is greatly needed for social services and activities in long-term care. But overall older adults are resilient and can thrive through programs to help them maintain their physical and mental health, especially activities that provide a sense of purpose. In closing he advocated for more Age-Friendly Cities to give all people more opportunities to thrive.