A growing loneliness epidemic, cognitive decline, and memory problems make older adults vulnerable to mental health issues. The most common conditions include stress, anxiety, acute or severe cognitive impairment, and mood disorders, such as depression and bipolar depression. According to studies, these conditions especially, mood disorders can lead to mental, physical, and social functioning thus can complicate and affect the treatment of other chronic ailments.
Although the rate of senior citizens with mental health concerns tends to rise with age, depression and other ailments are not a normal part of aging.
The good news about mental health problems of older adults is that it is a curable. In addition, with the assistance of certain therapies, there are several activities and resources accessible to help keep older adults involved and in good mental health and spirits. Mentioned below is a guide for older adults to maintaining and improving good mental health and well-being:
Just as our body needs stimulation and physical activity to stay healthy, our brain also needs to be active and evade cognitive decline as we age. Any activities that keep the mind involved and active certainly contribute to the improvement of brain health. Most accessible and common activities for senior citizens include: Reading a book, journaling, playing games and puzzles, learning a new language, playing an instrument to name a few. These activities will alleviate the effects of anxiety and stress.
Get involved in physical activities
Staying active and exercising is vital for older adults’ well-being as it helps maintain positive physical and mental health. Taking regular walks, practicing yoga, performing low-impact exercises like strength training and stretching are important to help older adults stay healthy and reduce the risk of age-related concerns and other chronic ailments.
These exercises not only have physical health benefits but also help manage stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health ailments in this age group.
Keeping in touch with friends, relatives and important people can help eradicate the feeling of loneliness and isolation that can lead to depression and decline in mental health. Staying connected with old and new friends via social media or through other mediums will definitely help in keeping them engaged. Seniors can also keep it simple by writing letters, scheduling a phone call, or as meek as going on a walk with their friends.
Picking up a new hobby
Every individual has a wish list of certain activities and dreams, but sometimes those are put off owing to our busy lifestyle and schedule. Retirement is the perfect time for older adults to pursue their lifelong goals like painting, gardening, singing, and dust off their “bucket list”. Pursuing hobbies will definitely help in keeping their mind involved and active ultimately improving their mental health.
Caring for a pet
A pet can help keep seniors busy and active and offer comfort and companionship with their unconditional love. According to various studies, bonding with your pet can lower stress, increase fitness and bring happiness to an individual. For older adults, pets can decrease feelings of loneliness, reduce blood pressure, calm anxieties, and increase opportunities of socialisation.
With no shortages of causes and organisations in need of support, there are many such opportunities for seniors to be engaged in and in turn feel needed and valued. Volunteering can help older adults remain socially engaged and active, and become a part of a diverse community enhancing their emotional, physical, and mental health.
It can certainly be a rewarding experience for them. Without a stable and healthy mind, the seniors are more prone to mental health concerns and physical ailments, therefore it’s imperative to take care of their mental well-being. By taking a step forward and performing healthy mind activities each day, older adults can benefit extensively.
Whether it’s going on walks, finishing a crossword puzzle every day, taking up laughter therapy, or even journaling, these quick activities to complete will help them in the long run.
(The writer is a Mental & Emotional Wellbeing Coach, Founder – Let Us Talk)
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