How Seniors Can Enhance Their Mental Health?
While there has been a lot of progress made for mental health awareness, it’s especially important to spread awareness to demographics that aren’t getting enough attention. Many seniors are retired, separated from their families, do not have a strong social network, and suffer from various health ailments. This makes them very vulnerable to mental health issues.
What Mental Health Issues are Common in the Elderly Population?
Many people don’t understand the state of mental health and aging in America, which is a part of the reason elders are not getting adequate care. The most common mental health challenge that the elderly population faces is depression. This is followed by anxiety and substance abuse.
Neurological disorders like dementia are also common but are seen as more of a health issue as opposed to mental illness. However, dementia can still affect the mental state of the person that is suffering from the condition. The problem with all of these mental health issues is that they are often misdiagnosed and overlooked.
Sometimes seniors may not be able to communicate their problems, or they feel as if their issues are not important. They often don’t want to feel like they are a burden, which is why they don’t seek treatment. And when treatment is sought, there are other problems like limited insurance coverage, practitioners that are not trained to deal with elders, and difficulty diagnosing mental health issues due to other preexisting health conditions.
How Does Aging Affect Mental Health?
Many seniors are living separated from their families due to financial conditions and the inability for family members to care for them. As a result, they tend to experience high rates of loneliness. Loneliness has a large role in cognitive decline, heart disease, and the development of mental illnesses like depression.
Facing health challenges is another big part of aging. Limited mobility, painful ailments, and decline in cognitive ability may result in depression. Many seniors feel as if they no longer have value or purpose. As a result, a growing number of seniors see rational suicide as an option. It’s important to consider the senior’s age-related issues when addressing mental health challenges.
What Can Seniors Do to Enhance Their Mental Health?
There are numerous things that seniors can do to enhance their mental health. Here’s a quick list:
1. Build a Social Network
Many social programs are specifically built for seniors. There are clubs, activities, and resource centers that can help you build relationships with other seniors. As seniors get older and don’t see family members as often as they once did, it becomes even more important for them to build and maintain strong relationships with others.
2. Keep Challenging Your Brain
If you’re a senior, it’s important to keep your brain challenged to keep it healthy. Seniors should engage in mental exercises like puzzles, get involved with creative projects, read regularly, and continue learning new things. There are even video games that are specifically designed to help keep you mentally fit.
3. Participate in Programs Designed for Seniors
Seniors should look for a mental health program for older adults in their local area. These programs help educate seniors about mental health issues, help them design a rewarding life, and teach them to build healthy mindsets towards aging. It also helps to get family members and caretakers involved so that they learn about the unique challenges that seniors face.
4. Start Volunteering
Volunteering is an excellent way for seniors to share their talents with others. Giving back is also emotionally rewarding and gives many seniors a sense of purpose. There are many volunteering opportunities in which seniors can partake, even if they have mobility limitations.
5. Exercise for the Body and Mind
Exercise isn’t just for the body. It also has positive effects on mental health so that a regular exercise program can keep seniors both physically fit and mentally healthy. Seniors should consult with their physician before starting any kind of exercise program. It may also help to find fitness instructors that cater to seniors looking to stay physically healthy.
Health Professionals Need to Play a Part as Well
To tackle the challenges of aging and mental health, health professionals need to play an important role. They need to spend more time with seniors and look for behavior changes that may point to developing mental health issues. Comfort keepers need to establish a strong relationship with their elderly patients so that they can address mental health issues as early as possible.
We all need to understand that seniors deserve to live a life full of joy, meaning, and fulfilling relationships. We need to approach aging and mental health challenges with a fresh pair of eyes to help the growing senior population. A higher standard will need to be set so that future populations won’t have to face the same difficulties of getting the proper care.
Are you a parent or caretaker of a senior dealing with mental health issues? As a leading Sudbury psychiatrist, we’ve put a lot of emphasis on serving the elderly. We understand the distinct challenges they face compared to other demographics and can deliver the quality of care your loved one deserves.
Give us a call at (number) to set up an appointment.
We’ll walk you through everything you need to know and give you an idea of what treatment options we use for our senior patients.