Seniors are at risk of mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and cognitive impairment. Some of the main causes behind mental illness in the elderly include a lack of social interaction, reduced mobility, and chronic pain. A recent survey by the CDC found that around 20% of people aged 55+ report having a mental health concern. Fortunately, there are dozens of ways for seniors to increase their happiness and overall quality of life. Here are some suggestions to help seniors improve their mental health and well-being.
1. Move to a senior living community
Research shows that almost 70% of people aged 65+ will need some type of long-term care in their remaining years. It is natural to require some support as you get older; therefore, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help. Moving into a senior living community can be an excellent way to ensure that your care needs are met as you get older. Assisted living means that you will benefit from specialist nurse-led support while still maintaining your independence. Having assistance with your daily activities will improve your quality of life and enable you to be safer and happier in the long run.
Another wonderful benefit of moving to a senior living community is that you will be surrounded by other seniors with similar interests. You can enjoy regular social interaction and have the opportunity to build close friendships with people in your community. Most senior living communities offer fantastic facilities and exciting programs to keep residents entertained. Brandywine Living at Alexandria, for example, explains how their community offers residents a pub, a movie theater, a therapy pool, and an elegant dining room.
2. Increase social interaction
Social isolation and loneliness are some of the leading causes of mental illness in seniors. A survey by the U.S Census Bureau found that almost one-third of seniors live alone. Prolonged loneliness is extremely dangerous and can put seniors at risk of many health issues. According to aplaceformom.com, “loneliness can lead to stress, unhealthy lifestyle habits, and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s Disease.”
One of the easiest ways to combat loneliness is by increasing your social interaction. Getting out and socializing with others is particularly important if you live alone. You can meet people in your local community by participating in local events and projects or by signing up for classes and workshops aimed at seniors. Social media platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp can also offer an easy way to connect and stay in touch with loved ones online.
3. Find a sense of purpose
Many seniors lose their sense of purpose once they retire and no longer have work responsibilities. Research has found that seniors with a sense of purpose typically have improved health and longevity when compared to seniors who lack a sense of purpose. Broadly speaking, your sense of purpose should be what makes you want to get out of bed in the mornings. There are dozens of ways for seniors to find a sense of purpose in retirement.
For instance, volunteering can be an excellent way to give back to your local community and gain joy from helping the less fortunate. Volunteering can also be a great way to meet new people and increase your social interaction. Many seniors also gain a sense of purpose by learning new skills or offering to take care of their grandchildren. Being needed by others can create a sense of purpose and make seniors feel valued.
4. Make nutrition a priority
Your diet can have a substantial impact on your emotional well-being and overall health. Seniors should place close attention to their nutrition and follow a diet that supports good health. Eat three meals a day and try to pick foods with high nutritional value. Some examples of healthy foods to include in your diet include fruit and vegetables, lean meat, and whole grains. Snacks can be a great way to boost your energy levels between meals, but make sure that you choose healthy options. Some of the best nutritious snacks for seniors are pre-cut vegetables, popcorn, fresh fruit slices, and boiled eggs.
Try to plan your meals and cook large batches to make cooking less time-consuming and strenuous. You should also make sure that you stay properly hydrated by drinking at least eight glasses of water a day. If you don’t feel thirsty or forget to drink, then it’s a good idea to set a reminder to have a glass of water every hour. Try to avoid empty calories from sugary drinks like soda. You can make water more exciting by adding fresh fruit slices or other natural flavorings.
5. Reduce daily stress
High stress is linked to a broad range of medical conditions that include high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. Stress can also weaken your immune system and put you at risk of infections and viruses. With that in mind, seniors must try to keep stress to a minimum. You should identify any stressors in your life and then find outlets to manage stress effectively. Here are some simple ways to reduce stress in your life:
- Maintain close personal relationships. Your family and friends can offer a support network when you are feeling down or stressed.
- Make self-care a priority and schedule some ‘me time’ into your day.
- Enjoy relaxing activities like listening to calming music or reading a book.
- Treat yourself from time to time with something like a pampering spa day or a new outfit.
- Get moving and follow an exercise routine. Research shows that regular exercise is one of the most effective ways to reduce stress and anxiety.
Poor mental health is a serious concern among the elderly. Research shows that seniors are at high risk of developing mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression. Luckily, there are many ways for seniors to protect their emotional health as they age. Try some of the above suggestions to lead a happier, healthier, and more fulfilled life in your senior years.