As seniors age, understanding and prioritizing their mental and emotional well-being becomes crucial, particularly for those with special needs. As our elders age and more health issues arise, they can become overwhelmed and frightened by the changes to their bodies. Memory issues can cause them to forget to take medications which can cause a ripple effect of health issues. Mobility issues often lead to a lack of exercise which can perpetuate both a physical and mental decline.
The good news is that making small changes daily can significantly impact the mental health of senior loved ones.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. It is the perfect time to acknowledge and focus on the importance of senior mental health.
Let’s discuss senior mental health, why it matters, and some tips to help seniors stay mentally healthy.
What Is Mental Health?
Mental health refers to our emotional, psychological, cognitive, and behavioral well-being. It is how we think and feel about the world around us and how we react and respond to situations and others.
Why Is Mental Health Important in Seniors
Almost one in five seniors aged 60 or older suffer from a mental health concern. Anxiety, depression, and dementia are the most common mental health conditions among seniors, especially those living alone or without caregivers. These conditions affect their quality of life and their willingness and/or ability to perform the activities of daily living (ADLs).
Signs of Poor Mental Health in Seniors
Seniors may not always share their feelings, but there are changes in their daily routines, habits, appearance, and behaviors that will indicate something is wrong.
These signs can include:
- Withdrawal from activities or socializing
- Changes in sleeping patterns
- Loss of appetite
- Increased irritability, aggression, or agitation
- Difficulty completing activities they once found easy
- Increased confusion or forgetfulness
- Feeling negative, anxious, or disconnected
If you notice any of these signs, we strongly encourage you to contact a healthcare provider.
Tips to Help Your Senior Stay Mentally Healthy
Socialization is vital to mental health. Technology has made it easier for seniors to connect virtually, enabling them to participate in activities and stay involved with family and friends from anywhere in the world.
Encourage your senior to take a class, volunteer their time, or attend social events. Remember that being engaged and active helps prevent cognitive decline and enhances overall mood.
If your senior has lost a loved one or is dealing with a life-threatening or chronic disease, encourage them to join a support group. These groups are designed to help them talk through their pain and confusion and build strong relationships with others who understand exactly what they are experiencing.
Eat a Balanced Diet
A healthy diet is critical for physical and mental health. Seniors should include plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, fatty fish, and whole grains in their daily diets.
Nourishing one’s body with vitamins and minerals has been shown to improve cognitive function and memory, lower rates of depression and anxiety, and reduce symptoms of loneliness.
Providing seniors with healthy foods can improve their overall mood and reduce the risk of depression.
Exercise is not only important for physical health but also for mental health. Regular physical activity, such as walking, Tai Chi, yoga, or strength training, can improve mood, reduce stress, \increase energy levels, and increase the ability to take care of oneself. Seniors should consult their doctors about which exercises best suit their physical condition.
Exercise increases endorphin levels, which helps seniors feel happier and more content with their lives. It also promotes better sleep and is a great way to enhance one’s confidence and self-esteem.
Just as you train your body through physical exercise, you should train your mind through meditation.
Meditation trains your mind to relax, focus, and redirect your thoughts. Successful meditation can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, improve sleep, lower blood pressure, help with pain management, and improve memory.
There are several types of meditation that can be performed on your own or through a guide. There are even apps you can download to your phone or tablet.
Medical Services and Senior Home Care in Rockville, MD
Good medical services, housing, and long-term care are vital for seniors’ mental health. Aging can have physical and psychological impacts, and seniors may struggle with mental health issues without adequate care and support.
Access to medical services that specialize in senior care is crucial for early detection and treatment of mental health issues. Dementia and depression are not uncommon in those over 60. Early diagnoses of dementia can decrease the chances of depression by better understanding and planning for the disease.
In-home care can assist in creating a safe and secure home environment for your senior. Living in their own home creates stability and reduces stress. It allows them to maintain their independence and quality of life, which supports their overall mental health and well-being. Prioritizing these senior home care services is essential for seniors to live fulfilling lives.
Taking care of our mental health should be a priority at any age. It is crucial for seniors’ overall well-being and quality of life. Encourage your senior to stay connected, participate in social activities, eat healthy foods, engage in physical exercise, meditate, and take advantage of available resources to help keep their mental health in check.
During May’s Mental Health Awareness Month, let’s raise awareness about senior mental health, end the stigma associated with mental health conditions, and promote a more positive and supportive environment for seniors in our communities!
Choose Comfort Home Care in Rockville, Maryland, for compassionate and professional elder care services emphasizing senior mental health and well-being. Contact us now!
Additional Resources to Support Senior Mental Health
Here’s a list of resources that can provide support for senior mental health.
- Alzheimer’s Disease & Related Dementias
- Depression & Suicide in Older Adults
- Substance Use Disorders & Mental Health in Older Americans
Whether you’re looking to manage stress, improve your mood, or support someone else, these resources can be valuable. We encourage you to download, print, and share these tip sheets to help spread the word and improve access to mental health resources.