According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 20% of people in the U.S. aged 55 or above experience some type of mental health concern. This includes cognitive impairment anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and other mood disorders. Age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s, dementia or Parkinson’s disease can also contribute to deteriorating mental health in elderly people. If you have an elderly parent or loved one who is suffering with a condition like this, assisted living facilities such as Longhouse can offer them the comfort and care they need.
Many older adults also face unique challenges which can increase their anxiety and contribute to mental health issues, whether it be financial concerns, loss of independence or health problems. In this article, we will explore some methods to help maintain healthy mental well-being in old age.
Meditation can help reduce negative thinking and emotions which contribute to anxiety and depression. With greater awareness of the present moment, stress levels subside and the ability to see things from a new perspective increases.
With its focus on deep breathing, meditation also helps to activate the parasympathetic nervous system which is responsible for relaxing the body by controlling its fight-or-flight response, aiding in relaxation. Below are some deep breathing exercises which can help improve your mental wellbeing:
- Alternate nostril breathing
- Belly breathing
- 4-7-8 breathing
- Mindful breathing
By bringing awareness to your mind, you can learn to observe your thoughts rather than react to them, cultivating greater neutrality and inner peace.
Being sedentary and isolated can become a normal lifestyle for many older people causing them to lose their interests and zest for life. This is why it is important to stay active in body and mind as we age.
With the luxury of more free time, elderly people can dedicate their attention to the things they enjoy. This could be gardening, baking, playing chess, going for walks in nature or learning to play a musical instrument. Many of these activities can help to counter feelings of loneliness or isolation and can also be a way of making new friends.
Physical exercise is also essential as you age, ensuring you stay limber and strong. Gentle exercises such as yoga or tai chi can help to keep your muscles toned and your joints flexible while light cardio exercises such as walking or swimming will keep your heart healthy as well as improve your overall emotional and mental wellbeing.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet will ensure your body is receiving the nutrients it needs while taking care of your mental health. There is now a clear link between diet and mental health proving the food you eat has an impact on how you feel.
For example, B vitamins such as folate are important for mental health as a deficiency can increase the likelihood of depression. Lack of vitamin D can also contribute to depression as well as cognitive decline. Aside from your diet, supplements can also be a convenient and healthy way to receive the vitamins and minerals your body needs each day.
Follow the tips in this article to help yourself or someone you love improve their mental well-being.