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Neglect Increasing Cases of Mental Illness Among Elderly in Gulu

Statistics from the Gulu mental health unit shows that from March 2020 to February 2021, the number of older persons who sought medical help for various mental illnesses at the outpatient department was highest with at least 177 cases, followed by those with an anxiety disorder at 115 cases.
10 Apr 2021 09:32

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Psychiatrists at the mental health department in Gulu are registering high cases of mental illnesses among older persons.

Statistics from the Gulu mental health unit shows that from March 2020 to February 2021, the number of older persons who sought medical help for various mental illnesses at the outpatient department was highest with at least 177 cases, followed by those with an anxiety disorder at 115 cases. At the in-patient department, mental illness among the old was 99 cases, the second-highest after bipolar disorder, which had 106 cases. 

Alfred Lulua Droti, the acting officer in charge at Gulu mental health unit says that the high cases of mental cases among the elderly are attributed to alcohol abuse, mood problems and dementia.

Droti adds that the mental illness among the elderly is mainly due to depression, which results from loneliness. He explains that many families, especially the children marry off or relocate when they become of age, leaving their parents feeling neglected, sad and depressed, which lead to mental illness.

//Cue in: “Those are the numbers…

Cue out: … left them alone.”//

Neglect of older persons is not only in Gulu but countrywide.

A 2019 study in six districts in Uganda on “Experiences of Ageism Among Older Persons in Uganda”, by lecturers of Makerere University Department of Population Studies, indicates that 63.9 percent of older persons interviewed feel ignored or not taken seriously because of their age, while 97 percent of them said they suffer at least one form of ageism, that is stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination directed towards a person because of their age.

According to the study, this discrimination among the older persons causes poorer mental health (when one is psychologically tortured) poorer physical health, and a short lifespan.