Aging is inevitable, and significant life changes are expected as you age. There’s retirement or your kids having their own busy lives. Then there are more challenging aspects, and you start experiencing physical health problems, feelings of isolation, mental health conditions, or the death of a loved one.
All of these can pose a challenge to the mental health of seniors. Luckily, we gain important traits like adapting, resilience, and wisdom as we grow older. Seniors possess these traits that help them adapt to their life’s challenges and age gracefully.
A shout-out to all seniors out there: you’ve got this! You’ve been through many life’s challenges, and this is your time to enjoy your retirement, play with your grandkids, and explore new things. To age gracefully and live life to the fullest, here are eight mental health tips for seniors you can follow.
Start your day right with positive affirmation, a smile, prayer, and a bit of stretching. Positive affirmations to kick-start your day can help reduce stress, increase confidence, and keep your mental health intact.
As the Buddha said, “What we think, we become.” How can you start your day with positive affirmations? Repeat the following to yourself every day:
- “I am living the best years of my life.”
- “Today is going to be a great day.”
- “Every day, I find happiness and comfort.”
You can hang a picture frame or painting of this in your room. Or maybe place a note on your bedside table. Starting your day right with these tips can help you have a great day.
Now more than ever, exercise is very important for older adults to stay physically and mentally healthy. A 20-minute walk with your dog is a great exercise, or you can do yoga and meditation. If it helps, join tai chi classes, play tennis, enroll yourself in water aerobics, or find an exercise buddy.
One study recommends that older adults over the age of 65 have at least 30 minutes of exercise every day. During exercise, the body releases the happy hormone called endorphins. This helps relieve stress, makes you feel happy, improves sleep, and helps keep mental well-being intact.
3. Stay Connected With Friends and Family Members
Retirement and your kids living their own busy lives are inevitable, and both can increase the risk of social isolation or loneliness in older adults. To cope with loneliness, stay connected with family and friends.
Visit them as often as you can, volunteer to babysit your grandchildren, join a book club, or stay connected through social media. There may be social distancing restrictions for some activities due to the pandemic, but you can always resort to video conference calls. Always keep in touch with your loved ones because this is essential in taking care of your mental health.
Have you seen the movie The Intern starring Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway? Ben Whittaker (Robert De Niro) lives alone and is retired. His wife just died, and kids and grandkids live in another city, but he’s coping with the loneliness and isolation brought about by his circumstances.
What does Ben Whittaker do every day to cope with living alone? He joins tai chi classes in the park and goes to the coffee shop every morning. Eventually, he joined the intern program of Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway) to keep himself busy.
The Intern is a great depiction of the everyday life of older adults. Keeping yourself busy with new hobbies and social interactions is good for your mental health.
There are plenty of benefits to taking care of a pet. It helps seniors stay active and busy and offers comfort and companionship. Seniors who take care of pets like dogs and cats have better mental health, are happier, have reduced stress and anxiety, and are motivated every day.
The companionship of a pet may help seniors feel loved. Keeping a pet is also a great way to stay active. Other benefits of taking care of a pet are lower blood pressure and decreased feelings of isolation or loneliness.
Your senior years are a great time to start a new project or hobby. According to one study, seniors who take on projects or start new hobbies have overall better mental health than those who don’t.
Being able to look forward to something every day gives a person a sense of fulfillment. Rather than watching TV all day, seniors will feel more productive with new projects or hobbies.
Examples of creative activities and hobbies that stimulate the minds of older adults are knitting, painting, writing, scrapbook making, gardening, or even minor repairs at home. Seeing the product of your creativity gives you the sense of fulfillment you may miss feeling after retiring.
Staying intellectually active, especially during the senior years, has many positive impacts on mental health. By keeping an active mind, many parts of the brain get activated. Intellectually challenging activities like reading, playing chess, answering crossword puzzles, learning a new language, or playing Sudoku are not only fun; they boost brain activity and function as well.
Have you noticed other seniors who have sharp minds? They don’t get to keep that intellectual brain without exercising it. Having an active mind is like a vitamin for the brain. It helps reduce the risk of memory problems and boosts overall mental health.
As with any age, getting enough sleep and eating right is always essential for mental well-being. Seniors are more prone to sickness, so not getting enough sleep or eating well may lead to physical and mental health issues.
Seniors are highly encouraged to practice healthy habits, and sleeping 7–9 hours at night is important. Sugary foods and refined carbohydrates are strongly discouraged. Instead, vegetables, high-fiber fruits, and whole-grain foods are recommended for seniors to feel more energetic and stay physically and mentally healthy.
Without a healthy body and mind, seniors can develop physical or mental ailments. By doing your best to take care of your mental health, you will appreciate how beautiful life can be. Aging gracefully has never been this good. Surely, you want to explore many things in life, and now is the best time to do it.
If you want to learn more tips on how to take care of your mental health, try the telehealth counseling offered by Kentucky Counseling Center. Aside from the valuable tips you will get in each session, you can enjoy talking to a mental health professional when you need someone to talk to.