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  • Writer's pictureGabriela Chim

Senior Mental Health: Ways to Improve Cognition & Emotion as We Age

Memory problems, cognitive decline and a growing loneliness epidemic, all make seniors especially vulnerable to mental health issues.

According to stud of mental health in older adults aged 55+, it is estimated that 20% of seniors experience some type of mental health concern. The most common conditions include anxiety, severe cognitive impairment and mood disorders, such as depression or bipolar depression.

Common mental health issues like anxiety and depression can have a negative impact on physical health and wellness for seniors. The CDC states that these conditions, especially mood disorders, can lead to impairments in physical, mental and social functioning and can affect and complicate the treatment of other chronic disorders.

Although the rate of older adults with mental health conditions tends to increase with age, depression and other illnesses are not a normal part of aging. 2. Get Physical

From taking regular walks to yoga classes and ballroom dancing, exercise and physical activity benefit both the mind and the body by boosting confidence and reducing the risk of falls. Staying active and getting enough exercise are as important for seniors’ mental health and older adults’ well-being, as they are at any other stage of life.

In fact, low-impact exercises like stretching and strength training are actually necessary to help seniorsstay healthy and reduce the risk of common age-related problems like bone fractures, joint pain, and other chronic illnesses.

In addition to the physical benefits, exercise can also help manage stress, anxiety and depression in seniors, which can be just as detrimental to seniors’ health as physical ailments and injuries. Exercising in order to maintain positive senior mental health is important. For older adults, keeping in touch with the important people in their lives can help to stave off loneliness and feelings of isolation that can lead to depression, as well as mental and physical decline.

Learning how to connect with new and old friends on social media, through FaceTime, Zoom or Skype are just some ways to stay in touch. There are always people willing to teach older adults how to use these different applications, as well as online tutorials. Seniors can also keep it simple by writing letters or setting up a regular schedule for a good old-fashioned phone call. 4. Pick up a New Hobby Staying active after retirement is extremely important. Everyone has a personal wish list of dreams and activities, but sometimes those ideas are put off because life can get busy.

Retirement is the perfect time for seniors to dust off their “bucket list” and pursue lifelong goals, be it gardening, sewing, painting or French cooking!

Hobbies like shadow boxes help increase the neuroplasticity of the brain in which nerve cells connect or reconnect, changing the brain’s structure and function when stimulated through the repetition of seeing them.

As neuronal connections in these pathways are strengthened, and new connections are established, individuals feel comforted and gain an increased sense of belonging and ultimately, improving senior mental health.

5. Volunteering

Many seniors find fulfillment and a sense of purpose in volunteering for a worthy cause.

With no shortage of organizations and causes in need of support, there are many opportunities for older adults to get involved, and in turn, feel valued and needed Seniors volunteering for a cause or organization can be a rewarding experience at any age.

For someone looking to donate their time after retirement, volunteering can offer a number of additional benefits that enhance seniors’ physical, emotional and mental health.


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