Below are some of the common issues that we treat, but not all of the problems we see:
senior woman with insomnia


Depression is a frequent problem in senior adults that can begin as early as childhood or start later in life. Symptoms can vary from having feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness to something less specific like excessive tiredness. Depression often goes untreated because people think it is a normal part of aging, but it is not! Depression is an illness of the body and mind with many treatment options.


Occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. People worry about things such as health, money, or family problems. But anxiety disorders involve more than temporary worry or fear. For people with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety does not go away and can get worse over time. The symptoms can interfere with daily activities such sleep or ability to do normal activities.


There is a misconception that older people need less sleep. The reality is that we need the same amount of sleep with age, but it is more difficult to achieve 7 to 8 hours. Circadian rhythms change with aging; chronic conditions like anxiety, depression, diabetes, arthritis and chronic pain can interrupt sleep; and lifestyle changes like retirement can lead to change in sleep schedules. 

Bipolar Disorder

Formerly called manic-depressive illness or manic depression, Bipolar Disorder is a mental illness that causes unusual shifts in a person’s mood, energy, activity levels, and concentration. These shifts can make it difficult to conduct day-to-day tasks. Bipolar disorder is a chronic disease that requires life-long treatment. Most people develop the disease between the age of 20 to 40 years of age but 10% of people with bipolar do not experience symptoms until the age of 50 and 5% after the age of sixty.


Schizophrenia is a mental illness often developing in early adulthood where a person experiences episodes of psychosis involving hallucinations (seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there) or delusions (fixed thoughts that are untrue). Treatment to manage the symptoms of schizophrenia is a lifelong journey. In older age, complications from medicine like weight gain and diabetes can occur. Unfortunately, people that age with schizophrenia develop dementia with higher rates than people without schizophrenia. 

daughter comforting elderly mother


As we age there is an expected amount of change in the brain that causes those “senior moments” when you forget a common name or walk into a room and do not remember why. But when the brain changes because of a disease process and a person can no longer do things the way they used to it is dementia.

Most people think of dementia as a loss of memory. However, dementia involves all aspects of cognition including language, executive function, reasoning, and even the brain’s ability to tell muscles how to move and work, like how to fasten a seat belt. There are many diseases that result in dementia. The four most common are Alzheimer’s disease, vascular disease, Lewy body disease and frontotemporal disease.

Currently there are no cures for any of the diseases that cause dementia, but drugs are available to slow the disease process. Ask your SASH healthcare provider about the most recent drugs available.

SASH providers also stay abreast of the latest research studies on new drugs for dementia. Some of these studies are done at Senior Adults Specialty Research (SASR)

SASR specializes in conducting clinical trials for central nervous system disorders including Alzheimer’s disease, Mild Cognitive Impairment, and other psychiatric disorders, as well as other medical conditions affecting senior adults.

SASH providers will assist our patients and families in navigating the research process if interested.

Research at Senior Adults Specialty Research in Austin, TX