Six Ways Older Adults Can Stay Sharp
Memory problems, cognitive decline, and a growing epidemic of loneliness can make older adults especially susceptible to mental health problems.
According to a research by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the mental health of older persons 55 and older, an estimated 20% of seniors have a mental health condition. Anxiety, significant cognitive impairment, and mood disorders such as sadness or bipolar depression are among the most prevalent conditions.
Anxiety and sadness, for example, can have a detrimental influence on the physical health and well-being of older people. These diseases, particularly mood disorders, can impede physical, mental, and social functioning, as well as impact and complicate the care of other chronic ailments, according to the CDC.
Although the number of older adults with mental illness tends to increase with age, depression and other illnesses are not a normal part of aging.
The good news about mental health for Older Adults
The good news is that mental illness in older individuals is a treatable condition. There are a variety of activities and tools that can assist keep older individuals active and in excellent mental health and spirits, in addition to the potential of professional intervention through prescribed medicine or therapy.
Maintaining strong, meaningful social ties with friends and family can help older individuals avoid mental health problems. According to the CDC, social support is linked to a decreased risk of mental and physical disease, as well as death.
6 Ways to Improve Mental Health with Seniors
Active senior living and adult day care programmes may give seniors with a supportive community and social setting where they can pursue activities they enjoy and even meet new people when their life circumstances and family dynamics change.
With that in mind, we’ve put together a senior guide to developing and sustaining mental health and well-being in seniors.
1. Play Mind Games
The brain, like the body, need stimulation in order to stay sharp and avoid cognitive loss as we age. Brain games, according to Harvard Health Publishing, can assist with processing speed, planning ability, response time, decision making, and short-term memory.
Any activity that occupies the mind and requires problem-solving helps to brain health, however the following are some of the most popular and easily accessible hobbies for seniors:
– Reading and writing. Studies have shown that reading can improve memory function, reduce stress, and promote better sleep. Journaling can also help manage and alleviate the effects of stress and anxiety.
– Learn a new language. Learning a language exercises areas of the brain that are often affected by aging, and can boost self- confidence and even help you connect with others who know or are learning the language.
– Play an instrument. Music stimulates the brain and improves memory in seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia. According to the Washington Post, playing or learning to play an instrument is not only fun, but it can also improve fluency and processing speed within a few months.
– Play puzzles and games. Various puzzles are not only fun, but have been shown to delay memory loss and improve mental health in the elderly.
2. Get moving
Exercise and physical activity, from daily walks to yoga courses to ballroom dancing, are good for the mind and body, improving confidence and lowering the chance of falling. Staying active and getting enough exercise is just as essential for older people’s mental health and well-being as it is for anybody else.
Even little exercise, such as stretching and strength training, can help seniors stay healthy and lower their risk of common age-related issues including broken bones, joint discomfort, and other chronic conditions.
Exercise may help seniors manage stress, worry, and depression, which can be just as harmful to their health as physical illnesses and injuries. Seniors must exercise in order to preserve their mental health.
3. Maintain contact with friends
People, especially as they become older, may find it challenging to maintain strong ties with old acquaintances due to time and location.
Staying in contact with significant people in one’s life can help older individuals avoid loneliness and feelings of isolation, which can lead to despair and mental and physical deterioration. Learning how to communicate with new and old acquaintances through social media, FaceTime, Zoom, or Skype are just a few options. People are always eager to educate older individuals how to use these programmes, and there are also online instructions. Seniors may also easily compose letters or set up a regular phone call plan.
Seniors, like everyone else, may always make new acquaintances!
4. Pick up a new pastime
Staying busy in retirement is critical, as an artist creates an ornament on a ceramic object. Everyone has a personal wish list of goals and hobbies, however those goals and activities aren’t always realised. Whether it’s gardening, quilting, painting, or French cooking, retirement is the ideal moment for seniors to dust off their “bucket list” and achieve their lifelong ambitions.
When neurons join or reconnect and alter the structure and function of the brain, hobbies like shadow boxing aid to promote neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity occurs when neurons connect or reconnect and change the structure and function of the brain when triggered by frequent viewing.
People feel more at ease and have a better feeling of belonging when brain connections in these pathways are strengthened and new connections are established, which improves seniors’ mental health.
When elders volunteer for a worthy cause, they often experience pleasure and a sense of purpose.
There are numerous chances for older folks to become involved and feel appreciated and wanted because there are so many organisations and causes that require help.
At any age, working for a cause or organisation as a senior may be a gratifying experience.
Volunteering may bring a variety of extra benefits to seniors’ physical, emotional, and mental health for those who desire to give of their time after retirement.
Giving up time for a worthy cause may be beneficial to one’s mental health. Volunteering in retirement can help seniors stay active, socially engaged, and a part of a vibrant and diverse community, whether you enjoy reading to children and young students or sharing your skills and knowledge with them, or you feel called to volunteer at a hospital, local food pantry, or soup kitchen.
Volunteering can be a wonderful experience for everyone involved, whether it’s meeting new friends or getting (or keeping) physically active.
6. Take care of a pet
When used appropriately, animals can keep elders active and occupied while also providing unconditional affection.
Many studies have demonstrated that the relationship between humans and their dogs may improve fitness, decrease stress, and provide enjoyment, according to the CDC.
Other advantages of owning a pet include:
– Blood pressure reduction
– Feelings of loneliness are lessened.
– Increased socialising opportunities
– Volunteering at a shelter is a fantastic opportunity to interact with animals while also helping groups in need if you don’t want or can’t keep a pet.
It is critical for senior citizens to look after their mental health. They are more prone to various bodily diseases and illnesses if they do not have a healthy and steady mind. Making an effort to engage in mentally healthy activities every day may be quite beneficial to older individuals. There are easy and short hobbies that will be very beneficial in the long term, whether it’s solving a crossword puzzle every morning, taking a few walks, or even maintaining a diary.