Mental health problems are incredibly common amongst seniors, and this will be something that you worry about with your parents or any other loved ones as they begin to age. It is understandable, as once people stop working and may struggle with independence and/or health, it is very easy to feel down, particularly for those that live alone, and isolation is a significant cause for mental health problems in seniors. The good news is that many steps can be taken to improve mental health in seniors, so read on if you want to find ways to help a loved one.
Check in On Them Regularly
One of the most obvious steps to take is to check in on them regularly and to ask how they are doing. Likely, they do not want to feel a burden to you, so they may not say if they are struggling, but if you ask specifically about their mental health, then you are more likely to have an honest discussion. Just having someone there can make a huge difference, and if they are struggling, then you can work together to find the best ways to improve their mental health.
Discuss A Retirement Community
It is common for people to want to stay at home as they age, but this can be dangerous if they have mobility issues and/or health concerns. Retirement communities like Brandywine Living can help an individual to retain their independence while also providing them with a local community along with the care that they need, which can make a massive difference to their happiness and wellbeing. Many people at places like this have a renewed sense of life as they can be so social and inclusive while still helping a resident to feel independent.
Have Fun with Them
While you should certainly check in on them regularly, you also do not want your entire relationship to become very serious, so it is still essential to have fun with them. This means having lighthearted conversations, taking them out, and making sure that they are socializing with other members of the family.
Show Them How to Use Technology
Following this, in today’s tech-driven age, it is easy to feel isolated if you do not know how to use modern technology. Showing a senior how to use smartphones and the internet can make an enormous difference to their life and make it much easier for them to stay connected with friends and family which can make a massive difference to their mental health and wellbeing (of course, this is not a substitute for face-to-face communication though).
Make Sure That They Are Looking After Their Physical Health
Physical and mental health are closely intertwined, so as people age and their physical health may start to decline, it is easy to see how this can take its toll on their mental health. Therefore, you should try to make sure that they are looking after their physical health by remaining active, eating a healthy diet, and getting enough sleep each night.
Encourage Them to Socialize
While it is undoubtedly helpful for you to socialize with them, it is also valuable if they have a social life outside of the family, possibly with other seniors. Communicating with neighbors, having social hobbies, and finding suitable social events through places like Meetups can all be excellent ways for people to have a social life as they age, and this can make an enormous difference to their wellbeing. Additionally, volunteering, if they can, can be a smart idea because it is social; it will give them purpose and help them to feel like they are making a positive difference to the world.
Encourage Them to Speak to A Mental Health Professional
If you think that they are struggling with their mental health in any way, then you should encourage them to speak to a mental health professional who will be able to help. It can be a tough subject to broach, but it is in their own best interests, and this will be the most effective way to improve the situation, whether this is through therapy, lifestyle changes, and/or medication.
Make Sure That They Have Hobbies
Hobbies can have a hugely positive impact on mental health, particularly for seniors that are no longer working and have a lot more time on their hands. Ideally, they will have a hobby that will get them out of the house and socializing but also one that they can do in their own time and at home, such as painting or yoga.
Activities to Keep Their Mind Active
Following this, it is also essential for their mental wellbeing that they are keeping their mind sharp and active. Once you stop working and spend more time at home, it is easy to stop using your mind as much, which can lead to a range of problems. This is why activities like sudoku, crosswords, and puzzles can be so effective at keeping the mind sharp as you begin to age.
Consider A Pet If They Are Lonely
If they are feeling lonely or isolated, then a pet can be a great way to improve mental health and give a new purpose to their life. Of course, some animals could be hard to look after if they have physical limitations, but even in this case, pets such as fish or birds could make a big difference in their life.
Try to Reduce Stress
It is easier said than done, but if they are feeling stressed, then you should try to help them to find ways to reduce this. The best way to do this is to identify what is causing stress, such as money or health concerns, and then to work together to try and find an effective way to tackle this problem.
Hopefully, the information in this post will be useful and help you to look after the mental health of a senior such as an aging parent. Mental health must become a priority at this time in life, but when you help them to do this, you should help them to make the most out of this special period in their life.