National League of NursingNational League of Nursing

The Voice of Nursing Education

Mental Health Needs of Older Adults


Mental Health Needs of Older Adults

Printer friendly version of this teaching strategy

Overview of Teaching Strategy

The mental health needs of older adults encompass a wide range of presentations. Frequently these get pushed aside as addenda to the other complexities of care when they need to be prioritized to better optimize care of older adults. This teaching strategy looks at the most frequent mental health issues seen in older adults and creative ways to help students better grasp and address these issues. Application of mental health concerns using evolving case studies, as well as brief scenarios can set the stage for beginning the discussion on what students saw, how they would prioritize what they saw, and what interventions might be appropriate. This teaching strategy can help educators start this process. The strategies presented can be used in lecture, seminar, and clinical settings. 

Learning Objectives
Students will: 

  • Develop a better understanding of the targeted mental health needs of older adults.
  • Use tools to assess mental health concerns of older adults.
  • Understand the atypical presentations of mental health issues in older adults.
  • Identify the impact of mental health issues in addressing the complexities in caring for older adults.
  • Recognize the need to assess functioning related to mental health issues in the older adult experiencing life transitions.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the need to consider the concepts of individualized aging in prioritizing the mental health needs of older adults. 

ACE.S Knowledge Domains 

  • Individualized Aging
  • Complexity of Care
  • Vulnerability During Transitions

 ACE.S Essential Nursing Actions 

  • Assess Function and Expectations
  • Use Evolving Knowledge
  • Make Situational Decisions 

NLN Competencies for Graduates of Nursing Programs

  • Human Flourishing
  • Nursing Judgment
  • Spirit of Inquiry

To begin, use the links below:

Getting Started
Suggested Reading
Assessment Tools 
Author Information