For seniors, maintaining good mental health is especially important for leading a healthy and happy life.
Unfortunately, growing older comes with many challenges and changes, all of which can make it difficult to stay mentally strong. From the loss of loved ones to ongoing health issues and troubling current events; navigating older age can take a toll on our sanity, and lead to poor mental health.
If you’re a mature-aged person and don’t feel as satisfied as you should be with life, then these tips can help you to keep your mental health in check and help you live life to the fullest.
1. Learning to cope with change
As we grow older, there will be many changes. From physical changes to changes in our life circumstances to financial changes, and so on. While some of these changes can be pleasant, others may cause significant stress and worry.
One trick to staying mentally strong in old age is to learn to cope with change. This will help to reduce feelings of despair or hopelessness whenever something unexpected happens and can provide you with the opportunity to roll with the punches and see the light in every situation.
Many things in life are beyond our control. Instead of focusing on trying to control or change situations, learn to control your reaction to these changes for better mental health.
2. Finding the positives
Positives can be found in nearly any situation, you just have to look for them!
When facing major challenges or events that have uprooted your life, try to see them as an opportunity for personal growth. The longer you live, the more you get to experience all of life’s highs and lows. Instead of looking at negative situations as ‘bad, see them as a chance to grow even stronger and more compassionate.
Despite all the turmoil that came from the pandemic, 31.2% of seniors are feeling hopeful and positive. It’s true that once you’ve hit “bottom” – the only way is up! So take the time to list everything you’re grateful for today, and if you’re facing something unpleasant, consider what positives or lessons you can draw from that experience.
3. Leaning on your support group
Seniors are more vulnerable to loneliness and social isolation, since they are more likely to face factors such as living alone, being in aged care or having experienced loss of loved ones.
As social beings, humans need interaction to maintain good mental health and feel a sense of community and belonging. Spending time with family and friends or at your local community group is one way to look after your mental health in old age.
Having a support group in the way of family, friends, caregivers, hobby groups, sporting clubs or online communities can help ease feelings of loneliness and depression, boosting mental health and happiness.
4. Keeping physically and mentally fit
Keeping physically fit and doing regular brain exercises can help improve your brain function and improve your sense of wellbeing.
Older people may experience memory loss or have difficulty recalling certain events, conversations and experiences. This can be frustrating for seniors, and may contribute to feelings of helplessness or depression.
Some conditions that affect the brain’s memory include obesity and a sedentary lifestyle. So to improve your brain function – and mental health – you should focus on getting at least 30 minutes of exercise daily to increase blood flow to the brain and protect it and your body from disease.
Memory loss can also be improved by up to 50% simply from doing mental exercises such as:
- Reading a book or newspaper
- Solving a crossword puzzle
- Playing thinking card games or board games
- Playing a brain game on your phone or computer
- Watching quiz shows
- Participating in a hobby such as craft or handiwork
- Engaging in meditation and relaxation exercises
5. Practicing self-care
Seniors can enjoy improved mental health by practicing some self-compassion. This includes being kind to yourself, taking time for yourself to relax, and prioritizing your health above anything else.
The older we get, the more burdens we tend to carry. Many seniors have spent most of their lives taking care of others, including their children and grandchildren. While it’s wonderful to spend time with family and tend to the needs of others, doing so without taking breaks for self-care can lead to stress and burnout.
Some great ways seniors can practice self-care include:
- Eating nutritious foods
- Engaging in hobbies or personal interests
- Spending time in nature
- Treating yourself to a night out to dinner or the movies
- Tending to a spiritual practice
- Spending time with a pet
There is a lot that can affect mental health in seniors. Sometimes things happen that cannot be changed, or the very process of ageing can come with equal parts happiness and sadness, resulting in a neverending rollercoaster of emotions! No matter what you’re experiencing on your journey, maintaining your mental health is vital. Keeping mentally healthy in old age is key to living a happy and full life. Tending to good mental health practices will help you to maintain a sense of purpose and find meaning and joy in every moment, even during difficult times. Remember, there are also plenty of support groups and professionals who are there to help you navigate any issues relating to your mental health. If necessary, your doctor can refer you to a support service that best suits your needs. By doing these things, you are giving yourself the best chance of staying mentally happy and leading an enjoyable and satisfying life.