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Mental Wellness for Seniors

As our loved ones get older, the primary concern often is how to handle their growing physical limitations, like not being able to maintain a home as well as they used to or get around easily by themselves.

However, it’s also important that mental wellness issues be recognized and coped with. Roughly 20% of all seniors deal with some sort of mental health issue, with the most common conditions being severe cognitive impairment, depression and anxiety.

Even milder versions of these conditions can be a severe issue for many seniors, especially if they don’t have a support system. As a big portion of the population continues to age, mental health for seniors will become more and more of an issue. Here are some of the key elements that can contribute to mental wellness for seniors.

Avoiding Isolation

As friends pass away and children move, many seniors find themselves on their own for extended periods of time. Even introverted people are still social by nature. A prolonged lack of human contact can lead to mental health issues for many seniors. This, on top of practical reasons, is partly why so many seniors end up moving in with adult children later in life. If this isn’t feasible, it may be a good idea to move to a facility where it’s possible to get regular interaction with other people. For those who are still independent, there are programs at senior centers and local organizations.

It’s also a good idea to try and facilitate regular contact with loved ones, even if distance makes it difficult to see them regularly. The good news here is that there are a lot of technological means available to make this happen. Apps like Skype or Facetime mean that you can keep in contact with family members no matter the distance.

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Taking Care of Health Issues

Unfortunately, issues like depression and anxiety have a high concurrence rate with other conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis. Because of this, it’s important to have a proper health regimen in place, including regular doctor visits. If a senior starts having mental wellness issues when they didn’t before, they should report it, because it may be a side effect of something treatable.

Maintaining Good Nutritional and Lifestyle Habits

Research has shown that a balanced diet and regular physical activity are both big factors in better mental health. Seniors may have some limitations here, but it’s still a good idea to exercise within one’s capability. For those with lower mobility, simply walking at a leisurely pace is enough to get the optimal amount of activity. If a senior has difficulty with cooking, it’s possible to order groceries or even fully-prepared meals online to make sure their diet is balanced. In addition, a regular sleep schedule is important.

Finding a Safe, Worry-Free Place to Live

Seniors may also experience anxiety because of a growing concern about their abilities to handle a typical day’s workload or household errands. A larger home may have made sense for them in the past, with a mate and children who needed the space and gave them support for cleaning and maintenance tasks. However, as time goes on, having to do things like mow the lawn, buy groceries, or keep a home clean, can quickly go from routine to draining. Trying to keep up with tasks the same way they used to can be stressful and even futile.

Another area of fear, even for those who can get around successfully, might be not having someone nearby in case they need physical support. For example, the home is one of the most common fall areas for seniors, not just due to the time they spend in it, but problems with clutter and lighting. After a senior has a fall, even after a full recovery, their home may be a source of stress. As a result, if loved one is going to consider a new facility, a worry-free place to live should be at the top of their priority list.

 

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