Seniors are more vulnerable to sadness or depression because they’re going through major life changes like declining health, death of loved ones, or loss of friends. Olympic Stairlifts shares 5 ways to help your older adult improve their mood with exercise, healthy eating, social connections, and more.
Many older adults struggle with depression caused by a number of lifestyle factors. Does it have to be like this? Or can the way people approach older age, physically and mentally, lead to growing older positively?
Physical health improves mental health
Science has found evidence that links physical health with mental health. Dr. Chisholm, the first Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), famously said “without mental health there can be no true physical health.”
Growing older brings challenges, like the decline of physical strength and mobility, which can feel like a barrier to keeping fit. However, there are workarounds that enable older adults to remain active.
For example, aerobic exercise is great for brain function, but doing it in water can reduce the impact on muscles and joints. For those with limited mobility, chair exercise routines are a great way to increase heart rate and strength the upper body. And a gentle walk outside will do a world of good.
What you eat affects your mood
What we put inside our bodies has an effect on our mental well-being too. Eating a well-rounded, healthy diet helps people feel better overall.
There are also some foods that can improve mood. For example, omega-3 fatty acids from fish as well as zinc and B vitamins from fruits like bananas can help improve depressive moods. And reducing foods like starchy carbs can help too.
Some older adults may feel that now is the time to throw caution to the wind and enjoy things like mid-week drinks or smoke cigarettes without the fear of dying young. The fact is that these things are bad for health and can also contribute to lower moods if consumed too frequently.
Stay connected with family and friends
Loneliness and isolation probably have the biggest impact on low moods in older people.
Too much time spent alone can have this effect on anyone at any age because humans are inherently social creatures. However, it is more common among seniors as adult children move away or become busy with careers and their own children, partners die, or friends move away.
One way to counter these effects is to get out as much as possible. Joining new social groups or community activities is a great way to make new friends with similar interests at a similar point in life as you.
If mobility is a problem, then technology can save the day. Seniors might not have grown up as “digital natives,” but local classes or young friends may be available to help. Technology allows for messaging and face-to-face phone calls through smartphones plus apps for mindfulness, medication reminders, and safety fall alarms. And websites are full of advice and support forums.
Keep your mind engaged
Small daily actions to keep the mind engaged and active are vital for prolonging brain function and memory as well as keeping depression at bay.
Having a sense of purpose and goals to achieve are also important to self-esteem and mental well-being, If your older adult has good mobility, activities like volunteering, tutoring, and travel are great ways to stimulate the mind and increase social interaction.
Practice a positive attitude
It’s difficult to simply “think happy thoughts,” especially if your older adult is experiencing pain or isolation. But the fact remains that we do need to practice certain thought patterns in order for them to become routine.
Encourage your older adult to practice gratitude and surround themselves with people who lift their mood. Being optimistic, making exciting plans, turning around negative thought spirals, keeping a sense of humor, and reducing stress will all help them experience life more positively.
Recommended for you:
- 10 Ways to Help Seniors Deal with Isolation and Depression
- 1 in 10 Seniors Has Depression [Infographic]
- Low Cost Therapy Options Help Caregivers Cope with Stress (great for seniors too)
Guest contributor: Olympic Stairlifts, an Irish company providing stairlifts, were the first company to be awarded Stannah’s Certificate of Excellence, assuring customers of the high standard of safety management and training they have provided over the last 30 years.
Image: Greg Riley
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