August 19th, 2021 | Updated on March 10th, 2022
As you age, you go through a variety of major life changes. You retire from the work you’ve done for most of your life. You realize that your children are too busy with their own lives that they seldom spend time with you. You lose more friends and loved ones to sickness or old age.
The challenges can become relentless as if you’re not getting any breather. When any of these happens, it’s easy to lose control of your mental health.
This is where conscious management of your mental health comes in. Despite the hurdles of life, you need to find it in yourself to see the silver lining in things.
You’re now off the labor force, and your retirement fund allows you to live comfortably, even pursue new passions such as traveling.
Your children have grown into responsible adults juggling careers with raising a family. You have more time to reconnect and bond with estranged relatives and friends.
You have many things to be grateful for. And gratitude is good for mental health, especially when you reach your senior years.
8 Facts About Mental Health And Aging
1. Mental Health Is As Important As Physical Health
Your mental health is crucial to your overall well-being. Older adults with untreated mental health conditions are more prone to substance abuse.
They can also suffer from a weakened immune system, slowing down the body’s ability to heal itself from diseases. The result is diminished vitality and a poor quality of life in general.
2. Older Adults Are Prone To Mental Health Disorders
This is true even among those who don’t have a personal history of mental disorders. Health conditions like Parkinson’s disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, and cancer, among others, can trigger the onset of mental health concerns. The same goes for medications that may result in a chemical imbalance in the brain.
3. Mental Health Disorders And Aging Don’t Go Hand In Hand
You will feel sadness over the loss of loved ones or because of a lack of a support system. However, that does not constitute clinical depression, which refers to a lingering sense of sadness. It’s essential to differentiate normal worries from chronic anxiety, too—the latter is a health condition that requires intervention.
4. Memory Loss Need Not Be A Part Of Aging
As you age, you might start to have trouble remembering certain things, or it might take a while before you retrieve old memories. However, significant memory loss is not part and parcel of aging. It is a preventable condition.
5. One In Five Older Adults Experiences Mental Health Concerns
While mental health disorders are not a normal part of aging, they are quite prevalent among older adults. The most common conditions observed among this age bracket include depression and anxiety. Unfortunately, very few older adults seek treatment for these concerns.
6. Suicide Is A Real Risk Among Older Adults
People aged 85 and above have the highest suicide rate in the United States. One in four suicide attempts among those aged 65 and up result in death.
7. Older Adults Respond To Mental Health Treatment The Same As Younger People
After receiving essential treatment, 80% of older adults suffering from depression recover.
8. Older Adults Have The Mental Acuity To Learn New Things
Just because you’ve reached a certain age does not mean you’re limited to what you already know. You still have the appropriate mental faculties to learn new things just like a young person would.
How To Take Care Of Your Mental Health
There are self-care checklist that can help you safeguard your mental health. The most recommendable in the list are the following:
The food you eat affects the functions of your brain, so eat as healthily as you can. Choose ingredients that are considered as brain food.
Think fatty fish, broccoli, nuts, dark chocolate, and blueberries, to name a few. Consume fiber-rich food regularly as well to improve your digestive functions.
Make it a habit to walk daily around your neighborhood or jog at a nearby park. Even if you’re at home, when you have idle hours, find ways to be active. Exercise triggers the brain to produce happy hormones such as endorphins. That’s good for your mental health.
You need to manage stress better, and one way to do that is by meditation. You do not need to follow a demanding yoga routine if your body can no longer pull off the agility essential to the activity.
Something as simple as sitting down 10 minutes a day and staying conscious about your breathing will do wonders for your mind. You’ll become more present and centered, and those will drive the blues and anxiety away.
Rekindle your love for old hobbies you neglected in favor of work or learn new ones to keep yourself preoccupied. For example, you can start learning a new language; not only will this project keep you busy, but it will also sharpen your mental faculties.
You may also spend more time volunteering for a cause that’s close to your heart. That’ll be a lovely way to spend your retirement years since you’re helping to make the world a better place. It’ll give your life a sense of purpose too.
Surround Yourself With A Strong Support System
Find a community in which you can actively take part. Reconnect with old friends and relatives, too—social media is at your disposal. Make sure you’re surrounded by people who are ready to cheer you up when you’re down. Do the same for them.
Get Help When Needed
Do not shy away from getting help. If you feel a lingering sadness or find yourself unnecessarily worrying about random stuff day in and day out, get advice from a mental health professional.
It’s Never Too Late To Live Life To The Fullest
You have powered through life for decades. Now, you’re stronger than ever. You have it in you to stay in your best shape, especially in terms of your mental health.
Remember that your mind affects how your body functions. A happy and contented mind will manifest in a more vigorous body. So do not neglect mental health—it’s the key to holistic wellness.
Moreover, enjoy life to the fullest. Engage in fun activities that will keep your mind sharp and your body active. Share these lovely moments with the people you hold dear.
You need a sense of community and a strong support system to get you through your senior years. You have the rest of your life unburdened by work—by all means, live it.
Tina Castro is an associate from Mountain Cove Care, a luxury senior care facility in Arizona. After working in hospice care for 3 years, she moved to Mountain Cove Care with a passion for advocating health and wellness to the community. In her spare time, she teaches yoga classes and goes on hiking trips.