Aging is inevitable, and significant life changes are expected. There’s the 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 impose a challenge on the mental health of seniors. Luckily as we grow older, we learn the traits of adapting, resilience and wisdom. Seniors have these traits to adapt to their life’s challenges to age gracefully.
A shoutout to all seniors out there; you’ve got this! You’ve been through many life challenges, and this is your time to enjoy your retirement, play with your grandkids, and explore new things. For you to age gracefully and live life to the fullest, here are eight mental health tips for seniors or the elderly which you can follow.
Mental Health Tips for Seniors
Start Your Day Right
Start your day right with a positive affirmation, a smile, a prayer, and a bit of stretching. Positive affirmations to kickstart your day can help reduce stress, increase confidence, and keep your mental health intact.
As the wise quote of Buddha, ‘ What we think, we become,’ or simply the Law of Attraction. How can you start your day with positive affirmations? Repeat 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 that can help you have a great day.
Older Adults Should Exercise Regularly
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.
Study shows that older adults over the age of 65 should have at least 30 minutes of exercise every day. During exercise, the body releases the happy hormone called endorphins. This helps in relieving stress, makes you feel happy, improves sleep, and of course, helps in keeping mental well-being intact.
Stay Connected With Friends and Family Members
It is inevitable – retirement and your kids having their own busy lives – there is an increased 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, stay connected through social media. With this COVID pandemic, there may be social distancing restrictions to some activities, but you can always resort to video conference calls. Always keep in touch with your loved ones because this is essential to take care of your mental health.
Keep Yourself Busy
Have you seen the movie ‘The Intern” starring Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway? Ben Whittaker (Robert De Niro) lives alone, retired, his wife passed away, his kids and grandkids live in another city, and he’s coping with social isolation. What he does every day to cope is he joined 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 movie ‘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.
Caring for a Pet
There are plenty of benefits to taking care of a pet. It helps seniors to stay active, busy, and of course, there’s comfort and companionship. Seniors who take care of pets like dogs and cats are shown to have better mental health are happier, have reduced stress, less anxiety, and are motivated every day.
The companionship of a pet may help seniors feel loved, and it’s a great way to stay active, too (like walking your dog outdoors). Other benefits of taking care of a pet are lower blood pressure and decreased feelings of isolation or loneliness.
Start a Creative Project or Hobby
Now that you have time on your hands, it’s a great time to start on a new project or hobby. Study shows that seniors who engage themselves in projects or hobbies have overall better mental health than those who don’t. Being able to look something forward to 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.
What are examples of these creative activities and hobbies to stimulate the minds of older adults? It can be knitting, painting, writing, scrapbook making, gardening, or even minor repairs at home. Seeing the product of your creativity gives that sense of fulfillment.
Keep an Active Mind
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, chess, crossword puzzle, learning a new language, or sudoku are not only fun, but it boosts brain activities 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. As a result, it helps with reducing the risk of memory problems and boosts mental health.
Get Enough Sleep and Eat Well
As with any age, getting enough sleep and eating right is always essential for mental well-being. Seniors are more prone to sickness; not getting enough sleep or eating well may lead to physical and mental health issues.
Seniors are recommended to practice healthy habits, and sleeping 7-9 hours at night is important. As for the foods, 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.
Related: What To Know About Sleep Disorders
Without a healthy body and mind, seniors are more prone to 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 this 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 of Kentucky Counseling Center. Besides the useful tips, you can enjoy talking to a mental health professional when you need someone to talk to.