As you age, you often face certain lifestyle changes that can result in stress or anxiety. Perhaps you’re missing a loved one, or friends have moved away and you’ve become socially isolated. While it’s normal to feel sad every once in a while, those lingering feelings of sadness or loneliness can easily escalate into more serious mental conditions like depression. Issues with seniors’ mental health often goes undiagnosed or untreated, and left as such, your quality of life will suffer.
Senior Mental Health and the Aging Process
Seniors are often less likely to admit when they feel depressed or think they may be suffering from a mental health condition. The CDC reports that along with depression, around 20 percent of people over the age of 55 suffer from mental health issues like bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), cognition issues or a combination of all the above. While these conditions are not a normal part of the aging process, older adults can be more at risk due to becoming isolated in their homes, because of medical conditions like stroke or heart disease, or they may even be dealing with side effects from certain medications.
If your mental health starts to decline, the result is usually a loss of overall independence. This is why it’s important to seek medical assistance if you’re experiencing any type of change in your mental health.
How to Stay Positive as You Age
The good news is there are many things you can do as you age to continue to improve your mental health and lead a positive lifestyle. For instance:
- Get involved socially. It’s common for seniors to become isolated in their homes, which is a key factor leading to depression and other mental health conditions. There are many benefits to staying socially active as you age, including improving your mood and cognitive function. Find ways to keep in touch regularly with family and friends, whether you invite them over for lunch or even just utilize technology like Skype, Facetime or social media. Volunteer in your community, take classes at a continuing education center, or join a club to help ward off isolation and depression.
- Keep moving. Physical activity does more than just keep your body in good shape. It can also positively affect the brain; a number of studies have shown the correlation between exercise and improved senior mental health. This is because exercise releases chemicals in the brain that not only increase your energy levels, but also improve your mood. And there’s truly an exercise out there for everyone, no matter your current fitness level. Try taking a daily walk around the neighborhood, join a senior fitness center to get in some strength training or take a light aerobics class, or if you have some mobility issues, try chair exercises.
- Give your brain a boost. Give your memory and cognition a boost while also improving your mental health by keeping your brain challenged. Try playing brain games that increase mental productivity. Or, learn a new language or instrument, take up a new hobby – anything to keep the brain active and engaged. You’ll notice additional benefits like sharper concentration, enhanced function and focus, and improved problem-solving skills.
Stay Engaged in Life at Deerfield Retirement Community
You’ll enjoy life to the fullest at Deerfield Retirement Community in Urbandale, Iowa. We offer vibrant independent living options with supportive health care services for a full continuum of care, along with stimulating activities for an engaging lifestyle. To learn more or to schedule a personal tour, please contact us today.