Tips For Improving the Mental Health of Seniors and the Elderly

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional
Updated:

Seniors and the elderly experience many life stressors that can lead to mental health issues if not properly dealt with. Here are some ways you can help an elderly person you love improve their mental outlook.

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that over 20% of senior adults experience some form of mental health condition. Most of the time, the mental health of older adults is overlooked by caregivers due to their ignorance of the importance of mental health for the elderly.

Seniors are more prone to stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues, which worsen their overall quality of life. People experience cognitive decline and a growing loneliness epidemic with age. On the other hand, mood disorders can result in impairments in social, physical, and mental functioning over time.

So, the importance of mental health for the elderly should not be underestimated in any way. This article provides information on ways you can help improve the mental health of senior adults.

Why Do Older People Experience Mental Health Issues?

Even though there are multiple risk factors for mental health issues at any point in life, older people are more prone to experience severe life stressors due to their ongoing loss of capacities as well as a decline in functional ability.

For example, a senior adult experiences chronic pain, frailty, reduced mobility, and many other health issues as he/she grows older. They require long-term care for most of these mental and physical problems.

On the other hand, older people are also more likely to experience life events including a drop in their socioeconomic status with retirement and bereavement. Mental health has a direct effect on the physical health of the senior adult and vice versa.

Older adults with physical health issues such as diabetes and heart disease have higher rates of depression compared to those who are healthy.

Tips To Improve Mental Health In Seniors

Maintaining good mental health is important as a person ages. Here are some of the most important tips to improve and maintain good mental health for the elderly:

Connect With Friends

People may find it difficult to maintain close relationships with old friends as they age. In fact, time and distance can impact the relationships they had when they were young.

But keeping in touch with the most important people in your life is helpful in staving off loneliness and the feelings of isolation as you age. Loneliness can lead to mental and physical decline and depression over time.

You can connect with old friends and family using social media and other technological advances in the industry. For example, Facebook, Zoom, FaceTime, and Skype are some of the best ways to stay in touch as you grow older.

Find A New Hobby

Staying active while aging is extremely important for better physical and mental health. Most people have dreams and passions in their early life, and those ideas are put off because life gets very busy at times.

Retirement is a great time for seniors to pick up their bucket list and start pursuing important goals in their lives. Whether you love gardening, cooking, painting, sewing, or any other hobby, engaging in a new hobby is important to stave off the loneliness that comes with aging.

You can see more hobby ideas for seniors here.

Exercise

Exercise benefits both the mind and body, especially when you are growing older. It helps reduce the risk of falls and boosts confidence. Whether you prefer yoga, regular walks, or ballroom dancing, staying active will help you age with grace. It also helps manage stress, anxiety, and other mental health conditions.

Caring For A Pet

Animals help keep seniors active when they are aging. They offer companionship and help keep the senior busy and active. A CDC study shows that the bond between senior adults and their pets helps lower stress levels and improve the happiness of seniors.

Caring for a pet has many other health benefits including decreased feelings of loneliness, decreased blood pressure, as well as an increased opportunity for socialization.

The importance of mental health in older adults cannot be underestimated. Old age leads to both physical and mental decline and a reduction in quality of life for seniors.

Providing appropriate opportunities for senior adults to stave off loneliness and other mental health problems is the responsibility of caregivers. Make sure you care for your seniors by helping them to improve their mental health as they grow older.

Sources:

https://www.cdc.gov/aging/pdf/mental_health.pdf

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional

Scott Grant has spent more than 20 years serving seniors and the elderly in the home medical equipment industry. He has worked as a manufacturer's rep for the top medical equipment companies and a custom wheelchair specialist at a durable medical equipment (DME) provider in WV. He is father to 4 beautiful daughters and has three terrific grandkids. When not promoting better living for older adults, he enjoys outdoor activities including hiking and kayaking and early morning runs.

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