Chapter 9

Enhancing Mental Health and Mental Wellbeing in Older People

Important Concepts and Effective Psychosocial Interventions

Anna K. Forsman

National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), Finland and Nordic School of Public Health NHV, Sweden

Eija Stengård

Pirkanmaa Hospital District and Tampere University Hospital, Finland and National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), Finland

Kristian Wahlbeck

National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), Finland


Worldwide, around 10% of the population is above 60 years of age, and by 2050 this proportion is expected to have doubled (UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 2002). Europe is an illustrative example of this trend of a progressively aging population: 17.4% of the total population (around 87 million people) was aged 65 or over in the European Union in 2010, which is an increase of nearly 50% in 25 years (Eurostat, 2011a). In addition, the age group of 80 and over is increasing most rapidly in Europe (Eurostat, 2011b).

The change in the dependency ratio is due to a constant increase in life expectancy across the European countries during the last century, at the same time as the fertility rates have decreased during the last decades. These two factors impact upon the steady process of demographic aging, where the absolute number and the relative importance of the older population continue to grow.

The demographic changes will lead to significant advantages as well as challenges on all levels of society: ...

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