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Ways You Can Improve Your Mental Health as a Senior
It is common for mental health to decline in senior citizens. There are many reasons why this happens. Senior citizens may have retired and may no longer have a work routine, their children have likely left the nest, leaving them feeling a bit lonely, and their physical health may be declining, which can impact their mental health as well. If you are a senior who is looking to improve their mental health, or you are looking to help an elderly loved one, then here are ten different ways that a senior can work to improve their mental health.
Practice Mindfulness Exercises
One of the best ways to improve your mental health as a senior is to practice mindfulness exercises. Mindfulness exercises help with emotional resilience, reflection, and understanding your emotions. There are many different mindfulness exercises that you can utilize, including meditation, yoga, journaling, and reflection. Taking the time to reflect on your day, to understand your emotions, and to think about your overall well-being and why you are feeling the way you feel can be a great way to get more in tune with yourself and improve your mental health.
One of the most common reasons why seniors experience a decline in their mental health is because they feel lonely, bored, and alone. One of the ways that seniors can overcome this is by reading. Books can transport anyone to a completely different place and time. Your mind is thinking about the story and your imagination is making the book come to life. Reading books helps people to feel a little less lonely and gives seniors something to do that they find enjoyable.
Work on Building Healthy Relationships
Another common reason seniors often feel like their mental health is declining is that they may not have the same relationships with people they once had. For example, a senior citizen may be struggling to have a healthy relationship with their children or grandchildren. Their own children may be busy and they may feel abandoned or alone. Instead of dwelling on the negatives, try to find ways to build those relationships. Learn to communicate effectively, articulate your thoughts and find activities that you and your children, grandchildren, or other family members enjoy doing together.
Find Ways to Socialize
Unfortunately, by the time someone is a senior, they have likely experienced loss in their life. Their family, friends, or possibly even a spouse, may have already passed away. As such, their social circle may have declined in size. Finding new ways to socialize can be important to improving a senior’s mental health. Fortunately, there are many ways for seniors to socialize. A senior citizen can volunteer at a local food bank or animal rescue. They can take classes, such as water aerobics, that are designed for senior citizens. Or they can join groups that are specially designed for seniors at local parks and recreation departments.
Stay As Active As You Can
As people age, they start to become less active, and unfortunately, being less active is tied to a decline in mental health. As such, another tip to help improve mental health in seniors is for them to stay as active as they possibly can. For many seniors, this simply involves walking through a local park or throughout their community. Staying active helps with weight control, helps seniors to stay limber, and ultimately, can improve their overall mental health and well-being.
Enjoy Time Outdoors
It is not uncommon for seniors to feel like they are alone and stuck in their own homes. They may no longer work, and as such, they may have few reasons to leave their home. One of the ways that a senior can improve their mental health is to take the time to enjoy time outdoors. This can be as simple as walking a dog around the block, sitting at a park, or even sitting outside of their home soaking up the sun. If you have an elderly family member, then invite them to outdoor activities, such as your child’s sporting events, a picnic, or a trip to a lake or beach. This helps to break up the monotony of sitting indoors and helps your loved one get fresh air.
Find New Hobbies
It may seem very simplistic, but another way that seniors can help to improve their mental health is to find new hobbies. Many seniors spend a lot of their time watching television and reading the newspaper or magazines. As such, they start to become bored with their lives and that can negatively impact their mental health. Finding new hobbies can be a great way to improve a senior’s mental health and give them something new to do. New hobbies can include anything from crocheting or knitting, to sewing, to painting, to cooking, to gardening. A senior may wish to try out different hobbies to figure out what appeals to them the most.
Take the Time to Learn Something New
In addition to finding new hobbies, a senior can improve their mental health by taking the time to learn something new. It is not uncommon for seniors to participate in classes at a junior college or to have their grandchildren teach them about computers. Learning something new helps to stimulate the mind. And let’s face it. Learning something new simply feels good. You do not have to ever stop learning, and this is true for seniors.
Consider a Senior Living Community
As a senior, it is important to be realistic about your quality of life. If you often feel alone, it may be time to think about a senior living community or facility. These communities are designed with seniors in mind. They often have clubhouses where events are held for the seniors and they organize trips that members of the community can take. It is also a great place to meet other seniors who may also be looking to socialize and enjoy their senior years. There are many different senior living facilities out there, all with different offerings, so always research the various facilities to find the ones that offer the resources that most appeal to you or your loved one.
Seek Out Mental Health Resources If Needed
Lastly, do not be afraid or ashamed to ask for mental help if you feel you need it. Discussing mental health may be challenging, but it can be hard to help someone if they are unwilling to be open about their struggles. If you are a senior, talk to your doctor or mental health professionals if you are struggling. If you are a family member of a senior, always ask them how they are feeling and be sure to inquire about their mental health. Let them know that you are there for them and/or put them in touch with local resources, such as counselors or mental health professionals, if you are concerned about their overall mental health.
There are many different ways that you can improve your mental health as a senior. If you are experiencing depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions, be sure to talk to your doctor or a mental health provider to get the medical care you need.
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