Senior Homes logo
Senior Homes logo

Call now

1 (844) 759-0108

Assisted Living for People With Mental Health Disorders

Reviewed By: Dr. Brindusa Vanta, MD

If you've found your mental health declining as you age, you’re not alone. One quarter of all seniors report anxiety or depression. Men aged 65 and older are at the highest risk of suicide. Those age 85 and older, regardless of their gender, are the second-most likely age group to die from suicide in the United States. Older adults experience stressors that can impact mental health, including financial worries, grief and loneliness. Declining physical health and struggling with tasks you once found easy compound the situation. However, poor mental health isn’t a normal part of aging.

Despite the high rate of mental health concerns in seniors, less than 50% receive treatment, according to data from 2019. Senior living is one option for better mental health. An assisted living community provides stability, structure and support. Living in a community helps combat loneliness, which is one of the biggest contributors to depression. Having support with carrying out activities of daily living while simultaneously eliminating the need to cook or do housekeeping also lowers stress and gives seniors time to do what makes them happy. 

Understanding how senior living can benefit mental health can help you decide whether a move to assisted living can improve your well-being. 

Common Mental Health Conditions That Impact Seniors

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders are characterized by excessive nervousness, fear and worry that interfere with your ability to function and be happy. It’s estimated that nearly 4% of older adults worldwide have an anxiety disorder.

Risk Factors for Seniors

  • Chronic medical conditions
  • General poor health
  • Medication side effects
  • Decreased mobility

How to Manage Anxiety

Typically, a combination of psychotherapy and medication manages anxiety disorders. It also helps to get plenty of sleep, avoid stimulants such as caffeine and talk about worries. Senior living can help ease worry or stress because you know there’s someone available to help in an emergency. 

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder causes extreme mood swings, from euphoria to depression. These swings impact your sleep, judgment,  behavior and daily activities. Although bipolar disorder is usually seen in young people, 0.1%-0.5% of seniors are diagnosed with late-onset bipolar illness.

Risk Factors for Seniors

How to Manage Bipolar Disorder

There are a number of medications that can help you manage bipolar disorder. Non-medication treatments include psychotherapy and stress management techniques. 


Depression is a mood disorder that affects how you feel, think and manage daily activities. Symptoms include feeling hopeless, irritable, sad or worthless. Other common signs include having difficulty with concentration, loss of energy and a loss of interest in hobbies and activities you once enjoyed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that 1%-5% of older Americans living in the community and over 10% of seniors who are hospitalized or require home care have depression.

Risk Factors for Seniors

  • Serious health conditions, such as cancer and heart disease
  • Some medications

How to Manage Depression

Professionals can help you manage depression through psychotherapy and medications. It also helps to connect to family and friends, stay active and take care of your body by exercising, eating well and getting enough sleep.

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses that affect a person’s eating behaviors. Those with eating disorders are often preoccupied with their weight, food and body shape. Symptoms can include binge-eating, avoiding food, excessive exercise, use of laxatives or forced vomiting. As eating disorders are normally considered a disease of young people, there isn’t data about the number of older adults impacted. 

Risk Factors for Seniors

How to Manage Eating Disorders

Psychotherapy and counseling services are useful to help people cope with eating disorders and self esteem issues. Residential senior care that provides meals in a community setting can help increase appetite and ensure you’re getting adequate nutrition.

Medication Misuse

Medication misuse is defined as improper use of  prescription medicine, including opioids, anti-anxiety medicines and stimulants. In 2018, nearly 1 million people age 65 or older reported having a substance use disorder.

Risk Factors for Seniors

  • Changes in metabolism
  • Increased sensitivity to drugs
  • Taking more medications for other health conditions

How to Manage Medication Abuse

There are drug treatment centers designed specifically for seniors. This can include support groups for older adults with substance use disorder. Doctors recommend inpatient treatment if detox is needed, as seniors are at increased risk of complications.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is often triggered by witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event. Symptoms can include anxiety, flashbacks and nightmares. It’s estimated that between 1.5% and 4% of people aged 60 and over have PTSD. This may have been diagnosed at a younger age or caused by a traumatic event experienced as a senior. 

Risk Factors for Seniors

  • Lack of support after traumatic event
  • Additional stress after the event, such as an injury
  • Loss of support structures

How to Manage Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Medication and psychotherapy are the most common treatments for PTSD. A senior living community can help people with PTSD develop social connections.

Risks Factors for Mental Health Conditions in Seniors

In addition to specific risk factors for the conditions discussed above, there are more general risk factors for mental health conditions that older adults experience. These include:

  • Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia
  • Certain medications
  • Chronic pain
  • Chronic stress
  • Grief
  • Isolation and loneliness
  • Change of life circumstances, such as retirement or loss of a spouse

Warning Signs of Mental Health Disorders in Seniors

Mental illness often goes undiagnosed in seniors. Symptoms can be dismissed as normal signs of aging, meaning older adults don’t get the care they need. The following warning signs could indicate that you’re experiencing mental illness:

  • Fighting with friends and family
  • Changes in sleeping and eating patterns
  • Feeling emotionless
  • Thinking of hurting yourself or others
  • Feeling angry, upset, confused or scared
  • Withdrawing socially
  • No longer maintaining personal care routines
  • Loss of interest in activities

Housing Options for Seniors Living With Mental Health Conditions

There are many living options for seniors that can benefit people with mental health conditions. Different housing options work for different people. 

Assisted Living for People With Mental Health Conditions

Assisted living is a residential care option where seniors live in individual rooms or apartments and receive assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs). Community amenities include meals, transport and social activities. The built-in social network can help combat depression, anxiety and other conditions. 

Nutritional meals are providedMay not be able to provide a high level of care for seniors with severe symptoms
Social calendars keep seniors active and engagedSome seniors struggle in a highly social environment
Staff are available 24/7 to provide supportMoving from a familiar environment may exacerbate some conditions
Includes personal care, housekeeping and linen services to help people with mental health disorders maintain their hygiene and living space

Nursing Homes for People With Mental Health Conditions

Nursing homes are designed to provide the highest level of care to seniors. People in nursing homes don’t need to be hospitalized but can’t be cared for at home or in assisted living. Round-the-clock caregivers can ensure people with mental health conditions always have access to assistance. 

Medical staff on hand to manage symptoms and medicationLack of control and independence can increase feelings of hopelessness
Healthy meals provide nutritionResidents are often cut off from their community, leading to feelings of isolation
Structured schedules help reduce stress and improve sleepThe expense of nursing home care can increase stress and anxiety

In-Home Care for People With Mental Health Conditions

In-home care provides personal care services and assistance with activities of daily living in the home. Home health care provides skilled nursing in the home and can include medication management. Seniors can get assistance maintaining personal routines and housekeeping, which are often neglected when someone has a mental health condition. 

Caregivers regularly visit, providing social interactionMay not provide the level of care required
Stay in the home, providing a stable environmentAssistance isn’t normally available around-the-clock
Seniors can stay living with loved ones who don’t require assistance, keeping support structures intactLess social interaction than other senior living options

The Benefits of Senior Living for Seniors With Mental Health Disorders

For seniors with mental health conditions, senior living can be a step toward restoring their well-being. The benefits of assisted living for seniors with mental health disorders include:

  • A sense of belonging: Assisted living facilities come with a built-in community and opportunities for socialization.
  • Peace of mind: Staff are always on-site, alleviating worries about falls, medications and other issues.
  • Healthy routines: The routines reduce stress and help ensure personal needs are taken care of.
  • Engagement and activities: Friends and activities in assisted living communities give residents a new sense of purpose. 

What to Look for in an Assisted Living Community for Seniors with Mental Health Disorders

Click the button below to download your Check List for Assisted Living Communities for Seniors with Mental Health Disorders.


When Should Someone With a Mental Health Condition Consider Senior Living?

The stability, structure and sense of community found in assisted living can help seniors manage mental health issues. Here are some signs that it may be time to for an older adult to consider a senior living community:

  • Unwillingness or inability to care for themselves
  • Social isolation
  • A need for help managing medication
  • An inability to follow their treatment plan
  • Independent living is no longer safe
  • Rising anxiety over safety concerns or isolation

Who May Not Be a Good Fit for Senior Living?

Senior living isn’t for everybody. People who experience moderate-to-severe mental health symptoms may not be able to get the care they need in senior communities. In most states, assisted living facilities can’t accept residents if they pose a danger to themselves or others, as they require special medical care. Staff in assisted living facilities do not have specialized mental health training, which can limit the type of care they offer. 

State Resources for Mental Health Assistance

State DepartmentContactAssistance Available
Alabama Department of Mental Health(800) 367-0955
  • Crisis centers
  • Mobile crisis care
Alaska Department of Health, Division of Behavioral Health(800) 465-4828
  • Alaska Careline
  • Mental health continuum of care
Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System(800) 654-8713
  • Funds mental health care for eligible residents
Arkansas Department of Human Services(501) 686-9164
  • Public mental health system
  • Drug treatment programs
California Department of Health Care Services(800) 541-5555
  • Peer support services
  • Specialty mental health and drug programs 
Colorado Department of Human Services(844) 493-8255
  • State mental health hospitals
  • Colorado Crisis Care
Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services(860) 418-7000
  • Directory of services
  • Trauma-related services
  • Behavioral health homes
Delaware Department of Health and Social Services(302) 255-9399
  • Mental health and substance abuse programs
  • Delaware Psychiatric Center
  • Peer support and community-based services
Florida Department of Children and Families(800) 985-5990
  • Crisis services
  • State mental health facilities
  • Community programs
Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities(800) 715-4225
  • Georgia Crisis and Access Line
  • State mental health hospitals 
Hawaii Department of Health(808) 453-6981
  • Community mental health centers
  • Hawaii State Hospital
  • Crisis helpline
Idaho Department of Health and Welfare(800) 926-2588
  • Adult behavioral health program
  • Crisis centers
  • Recovery community centers
Illinois Department of Human Services(800) 843-6154
  • Coordinates mental health treatment organizations

  • Mental health hospitals 
Indiana Family and Social Services Administration(800) 901-1133
  • Mental health hospitals
  • Recovery and rehabilitation programs
Iowa Department of Health and Human Services1-800-972-2017
  • Crisis services
  • Inpatient psychiatric services
  • Disaster assistance

Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services(785) 296-4986
  • Treatment and recovery support
  • Mental health nursing facilities
Kentucky Department for Behavioral Health, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities(502) 564-4456
  • Regional community mental health centers
  • Peer support services
  • Supportive housing
Louisiana Department of Health(225) 342-9500
  • State psychiatric facilities
  • Behavioral health clinics
  • Suicide prevention training
  • Peer support programs
Maine Office of Behavioral Health(207) 287-3707
  • Crisis services
  • Early intervention
  • Residential treatment
  • Recovery support
Maryland Department of Health(410) 767-6500
  • Behavioral health walk-in and urgent care centers
  • State mental health hospital 
Massachusetts Department of Mental Health(833) 773-2445
  • Behavioral health helpline
  • Supplemental mental health services for eligible residents
Michigan Department of Health and Human Services(888) 733-7753
  • Peer support helpline
  • State psychiatric hospitals
  • Behavioral health clinics
Minnesota Department of Human Services(651) 431-2225
  • Crisis services
  • Rehabilitative services
  • Short-term inpatient treatment
  • Residential care
Mississippi Department of Mental Health(601) 359-1288
  • Mobile crisis response teams
  • Peer support and community services 
  • State hospitals and community mental health centers
Missouri Department of Mental Health(800) 364-9687
  • Crisis intervention hotline
  • Evaluation, treatment and rehabilitation services
Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services(406) 444-3964
  • Crisis intervention and response
  • Drop in center
  • Mental health centers
  • Mental Health Nursing Care Center
Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services(402) 471-3121
  • Psychiatric hospitals
  • Prescription assistance program
  • Community-based services
Nevada Division of Public Health and Human Services(775) 684-4200
  • Inpatient services
  • Crisis response
  • Substance abuse prevention and treatment
New Hampshire Bureau of Mental Health(833) 710-6477
  • Community mental health centers
  • Mental health helpline
  • Rapid response crisis system
New Jersey Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services(800) 382-6717
  • Peer support programs
  • Community wellness centers
  • Recovery support
  • Early intervention services
New Mexico Human Services Department(800) 283-4465
  • Oversees organizations that provide mental health services
New York Office of Mental Health(800) 597-8481
  • Crisis prevention
  • Mental health program directory
North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services(984) 236-5000
  • Crisis care
  • Community behavioral health clinics
  • Assertive community treatment
North Dakota Department of Health and Human Services(701) 328-8920
  • Regional human service centers
  • State hospital
Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services(614) 466-2337
  • Mental health insurance assistance
  • Behavioral health care
  • Substance abuse programs
Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services(405) 248-9200
  • Support groups
  • Urgent recovery and crisis center
  • Community behavioral health clinics
Oregon Health Authority(503) 945-5772
  • State hospital
  • Community mental health program
  • Peer-delivered services
Pennsylvania Department of Human Services(800) 692-7462
  • Crisis hotline
  • Care provider database
  • Assertive community treatment
  • Peer support programs

Rhode Island Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals(401) 462-2339
  • State psychiatric hospitals
  • Peer support programs
South Carolina Department of Mental Health(803) 898-8581
  • Crisis resources
  • Community mental health centers and clinics
  • Treatment plans
South Dakota Department of Social Services(605) 773-3165
  • Community mental health centers
  • Peer support
  • Crisis services
  • Inpatient treatment
Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services(855) 274-7471
  • Crisis services
  • Peer recovery services
  • Safety net
  • Older adult programs
Texas Health and Human Services Commission(877) 541-7905
  • Crisis services
  • Mental health housing
  • Peer support
Utah Department of Health and Human Services(801) 538-3939
  • Treatment services
  • Crisis services
  • Recovery support
Vermont Department of Mental Health(802) 241-0090
  • Peer services
  • Psychiatric hospital
  • Outpatient programs
  • Community rehabilitation and treatment
Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services(804) 786-3921
  • Community services
  • State psychiatric facilities
Washington Health Care Authority1-800-562-3022
  • Oversees organizations that provide mental health services
West Virginia Bureau for Behavioral Health(304) 558-0627
  • Comprehensive behavioral health centers
  • Recovery support
Wisconsin Division of Care and Treatment Services(608) 266-1865
  • Care and treatment facilities
  • Community treatment services
  • Peer services
Wyoming Department of Health(800) 535-4006
  • Peer support programs
  • Crisis support
  • Community mental health treatment

Those with certain disabilities or diseases have more obstacles to overcome when searching for a quality assisted living home. If you have questions, we are here to help provide the answers. Give our senior care advocates a call and read our guides for specific information and resources related to your or your loved one’s condition.

Those with certain disabilities or diseases have more obstacles to overcome when searching for a quality assisted living home. If you have questions, we are here to help provide the answers. Give our senior care advocates a call and read our guides for specific information and resources related to your or your loved one’s condition.

Find Care

  • Assisted Living

  • Independent Living

  • Memory Care

© 2024 Caring, LLC. All rights reserved.