How to Maintain the Mental Health of Seniors

Aging is not a disease but a stage of the life cycle that has its developmental issues. Also, aging comes with wisdom, and it is an opportunity to pass on the experiences to future generations. Aging is simultaneous with a gradual reduction in the ability of some organs in the body, but it is entirely wrong to consider aging with physical and intellectual disability. We should note that seniors can easily retain their physical and mental abilities even during the later years of their lives. There are various ways to maintain mental health during old age, and in today’s article of Living Maples, we will introduce some tips to maintain the mental health of seniors.

Read More: The Common Mental Disorders that Threaten the Elderly

Aging is the period in which the cells of the body grow older. Each cell has a life cycle, and various environmental and genetic factors are involved in its life cycle. Aging also changes the structure of the cells. It is also noteworthy that lack of attention to mental health of seniors can lead to mental disorders. Hence, the elderly cannot continue some of their duties as their younger years. Let’s delve into some of the most important issues to maintain mental health of seniors.

Tips on Maintaining the Mental Health of Seniors

  • Pay attention to depression and anxiety symptoms: Depression and anxiety are the problems that sometimes coexist the old age. If you have recently felt mood swings, decreased energy, and a decreased enjoyment of daily activities make sure to consult a psychiatrist.
  • Studying: Research show that the more the elderly study and read different books, they will have better mental health.

a senior woman sitting on a sofa and reading a book

  • Enough rest and sleep: Adequate sleep and rest will help you to have a calm mind. Get 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Taking a nap during the day for half an hour can adjust bodily functions.
  • Avoid stress: Stress can have severe consequences on the mental health of seniors and it can disrupt bodily functions, the functioning of the nervous system, memory, and concentration. To deal with stress, one must first find the sources that cause it. For example, staying in traffic during busy street hours can be stressful. So by adjusting the time of travel or changing the route, you can overcome this issue. Activities such as walking, sports, and recreational activities, and relaxation (meditation and yoga) or going on vacation for a few days can help reduce stress.
  • Protecting and preventing brain injuries: Falling is the most common brain injury in old age. These injuries can lead to a decline in brain capacity, so we must adequately protect the brain as the body’s most valuable organ. The walking path of the elderly and places where there is a possibility of slipping should be corrected, and there should always be enough light in the house to prevent falling. Talk to your doctor if you feel unbalanced while standing or walking.

Motivational Tips on Improving Mental Health of Seniors

  • Not giving up the job and willingness to work: Working has a good impact on mental health of the elderly and seniors who work part-time or full-time have better mental health.
  • Keep in touch: Depression and loneliness are among the issues that most elderly are suffering from. However, they are very easy to manage if the elderly have access to communication means to keep in touch with their loved ones. Studies show that contacting family members, whether in person or via social media and video chatting, can enhance the mood and mental health of the elderly and create a sense of worthiness in them, which are the most effective ways to hinder the emergence of depression.

A group of seniors speaking with each other and laughing

  • Maintain Social Relationships: Social relationships with friends, family, relatives, and co-workers help maintain mental health. Studies have shown that people who interact well with family members, relatives, and social groups develop Alzheimer‘s symptoms later than those isolated and alone, so it is recommended that the elderly maintain these relationships.
  • Exercise your mind and brain: Some distractions are considered normal in old age. Nervous stress, anxiety, and busy living can also interfere with your memory and concentration. Engage your mind by solving a variety of crosswords and puzzles. Increase your general knowledge by reading multiple books that is one of the hobbies for seniors.
  • Ask for help: Family members and friends are always there to ask for help during this life period. However, you might have some issues with your relatives, or you might not want to reveal your inner thoughts to them. In these cases, you might need to talk to someone who is a stranger. Hence, by asking caregivers to listen to your inner thoughts, you can redeem yourself of most of your problems since they have specialist knowledge in their field and can provide you with proper advice.

Exercise and Diet Tips

  • Start physical activity today: The sooner you start regular exercise, the more benefits you will get. Exercise reduces chronic diseases such as atherosclerosis, lowers blood pressure, lowers blood fats, etc. A regular and gentle daily physical activity, such as walking for 30 minutes a day, reduces cardiovascular disease, reduces the incidence of osteoporosis, improves respiratory function, improves blood flow, maintains ideal weight and fitness, and ultimately a general feeling of physical and mental relaxation. In many cases, diet and exercise, without additional surgical or medical interventions, can stop the process of a disease.

A group seniors hiking

  • Enroll in various classes: It is never too late to learn. Learn to work with computers and contact your friends and acquaintances by e-mail. You can also enroll on sport classes. Engagement in various classes can improve mental health of seniors to a considerable extent.
  • Physical health care: Older adults who know their physical condition is excellent or perfect are emotionally and mentally healthier than their peers who are not completely satisfied with their physical health.
  • Have a proper diet: reduce salt intake and not consume solid fats, maintain a healthy weight, use all food groups, mostly fresh fruits and vegetables and dairy products, and do your best in maintaining your health.

Warnings for Mental Health of Seniors

It is quite natural for the elderly to experience physical and mental changes due to their age, but these changes should not restrict them. However, some changes can act as a forewarning for some serious disorders, and timely management of them is a must. The following are some issues that need to be considered:

  • Not paying attention to appearance and clothes
  • Not having the patience to do difficult tasks related to home or yard
  • Unstable weight and appetite changes
  • Depression lasting for more than two weeks
  • A sense of guilt and considering suicide
  • Not being able to remember various events related to short-term memory
  • Chronic pains in various parts of the body
  • Not being able to calculate and work with numbers
  • Fatigue, loss of energy, and sleep disorders

COVID-19 pandemic has made most people not leave their homes, which can be bothering for the elderly. Seniors cannot cope with some situations, and keeping them at home for a long period can decrease their patience. So it is necessary to provide them with the required facilities to amuse. You should also make sure to spot them for the signs that might need help. Video chatting, talking on the phone, and helping them by dropping off groceries can be helpful.

The elderly themselves and their caregiver should consider the ideas advised in this article to have better mental health. In case you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, it is necessary to visit your family doctor’s office.

Use this article only as educational material. You must consult your doctor and/or specialist prior to using it. Read more about this disclaimer.

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7 months ago

I have to say, as someone who has suffered from depression for years now, I find keeping in touch with people I know the hardest part. Sometimes I don’t even want to call my family. It doesn’t even take much time, but I don’t want to do it. Sometimes. They’re understanding and tell me I don’t need to force myself, but sometimes they take it personally and think I have a problem with them. I can’t find the energy. Talking and finding topics to talk about is just too hard. Does anyone know what I can do to make this easier?

Reply to  Amy
12 days ago

Hi Amy
It makes total sense that you feel this way. Not wanting to socialize is a common effect of depression. If you’ve already explained why you can’t constantly keep in touch with them and they still don’t get it, then it’s on them. You can’t change what others think about you if they don’t try to understand your situation. What you CAN do is make sure you receive the clinical help you need. Depression is not easy to defeat, making it even more important to look for its source, which is best done with the help of a professional.

Reply to  Amy
12 days ago

Hello! thanks for sharing your experience. I think it’s normal if somedays you’re not in the mood to talk, but the point is that it will get worse if you avoid talking to your family. Communication is what makes us alive! So, if it is hard for you to find any topic, talk about your daily activities or the book you’ve read. Talk about your feelings or tell memories of your childhood, and remember you are not expected to talk about something special every day. Sometimes all they need is to hear your voice and make sure that you’re ok. Take it easy!

20 days ago

Thank you for this great article! Old age is the most beautiful age if the elderly can spend quality time with their loved ones. Now that they’ve retired, they feel numb and empty, as if they’ve lost control of their life. Also, due to the demanding work schedules of younger family members, spending meaningful time each day is difficult. So, in my opinion, it’s best to get kids involved in their activities, allowing them to meet like-minded people and helping them to feel connected, confident, and capable of helping the community.

Reply to  Elijah
6 days ago

Exactly! My mother was dealing with retirement depression a while ago, and I arranged some parties and gatherings with my siblings every weekend. It helped a lot.

18 days ago

Here are a few things I recommend that has worked for me:
Value yourself, Treat yourself with kindness and respect and avoid self-criticism. If you respect yourself, the world will follow.
Take care of your body, work out, and if that is not an option, you can simply walk and stretch.
Surround yourself with family and friends, if you can.
Reward yourself for your little achievements.
Try to learn how to empty your mind before bed.
Stay away from those who are careless towards their mental health.
We usually become our environment.

5 days ago

Hi there! My mom is almost 63, and I recently noticed the signs of depression in her. I mean, she was never that type of energetic and extrovert person. Still, now she avoids people differently. She stays at home all day and does not even talk to her friends once in a while anymore. I’ve tried to convince her to see a therapist, but she believes that everything’s ok. If anyone has a similar experience pls tell me what I should do about her.

Reply to  Jess
4 days ago

Hi Jess, sorry to hear that. I believe the first step is talking to her very kindly and patiently to see if anything is bothering her. Listen to her attentively; she may try to conceal her problem not to worry you, so ensure verbally and actually that you are strong enough for anything. Second, if possible, try to do some sport or exercise with her, especially the ones she is interested in. You may also invite or take her to her favourite places such as restaurants, museums or anywhere she enjoys being. I hope you find these helpful.