Mental Health and the Elderly – Part 4

Curantis Home Carers are pleased to provide part four of our mental health series by Erika Schulten. Curantis Home Carers provide quality home care throughout Gauteng. If you have a loved one in need of home care, contact us today for a FREE CONSULTATION.

Today we will focus on BIPOLAR DISORDER and previously called Manic Depression which affects over 4 million South Africans and the 3-4% of the population who are affected by this illness, their families, and friends, know that Bipolar is not something that happens to someone else.

Bipolar Disorder is stigmatized and society still frown upon those who suffer from the illness as being “crazy’, ‘unstable’ and ‘dangerous’

The exact cause of Bipolar Disorder isn’t known, but a combination of genetics, environment and altered brain structure and chemistry may play a role.

Bipolar Disorder causes extreme mood swings known as “highs” and “lows” and the individual who suffers from the illness can experience periods when they are highly active, excited and happy and this is referred to as “mania” and periods when they feel extremely low and depressed.

This pattern can interfere with the quality of lifestyle that the sufferer experiences.

The illness can be treated with drugs and therapy.

People with the illness can learn to recognise the signs and onset and they are then able to manage the symptoms.


  • Treatment can help, but this condition can’t be cured
  • It is a Chronic illness and can last for years or be lifelong
  • Requires a medical diagnosis
  • Manic (Highs) episodes may include symptoms such as high energy, reduced need for sleep and loss of touch with reality.
  • Depressive (Lows) episodes may include symptoms such as low energy, low motivation, and loss of interest in daily activities and can last for days to months at a time associated with suicidal thoughts.


MANIC (Highs) episodes might entail:  

  • Full of energy and talks very quickly
  • Be over-optimistic or even euphoric
  • Be unusually impatient or is easily annoyed
  • Make irrational or ill-judged decisions such as overspending on something that they can’t afford
  • Talk about great plans and an increased interest in sex
  • Sleep or eat less than usual
  • Behave out of character or do things that seem risky or dangerous and could be harmful
  • Illogical thoughts, delusional beliefs or hallucinations


DEPRESSIVE (Lows) episodes might entail:

  • Feel a lack of hope, despairing or empty
  • Lose interest in day-to-day life
  • Feel exhausted and have problems with sleeping patterns
  • Have suicidal thoughts

How can we help:-

  • Maintaining a consistent manner rather than reflecting the individuals’ mood
  • Acknowledge that the individuals’ experiences and feelings are real, however, it is important not to collude with unrealistic plans or ideas
  • Get the individual in practical activities and tasks
  • Do not show impatience or irritation


Next week we will look at Common Health Conditions and will cover some of the most pertinent conditions that we are faced with.


Contact Curantis Home Carers today. We can help.