MED e-care Blog

Ways to Build Positive Mental Health in Seniors

By Alana Rennie  |  31 July 2018


A person's mental health directly affects his overall quality of life. When seniors suffer from mental health issues, they cannot fully participate in everyday life. A senior can be overwhelmed by sadness, worrisome thoughts, and may give up on life entirely. His mental health can even affect his physical health. From living arrangements to medical concerns, there are special factors for elderly persons that place them at risk for mental health problems.

Why Do Seniors Have Mental Health Issues?

Individuals of all ages can struggle with mental health. However, the reasons for mental health issues in older people are often different.

Aging can bring many concerns. The senior may worry about dying, and how his life will end. They may worry about the medical problems they cope with on a daily basis, and wonder if their conditions will worsen. Frailty can bring additional concerns. When a senior is no longer as strong and agile as he was in the past, he may be afraid of accidents, or that he cannot protect himself when he is in danger.

Isolation is a special problem for elderly persons. Perhaps the senior has lost all of his close friends, and does not have family members in the area. He may fear for his safety at home, and if he goes out into the community. Even if he does not live alone, health factors can cause a sense of isolation. If his eyesight or hearing is impaired, for example, it can be difficult to communicate with others.

Symptoms of Mental Health Problems in Seniors

Two of the greatest mental health problems that affect older persons are depression and anxiety.

Depression can cause a person to neglect himself. He may stop eating properly, and no longer tend to personal grooming. He may develop insomnia, or sleep too much. At its worst, depression can lead to suicidal thoughts or actions.

Anxiety can cause seniors to withdraw from the community, and even his loved ones. Fear can dictate his life.

Improving Senior Mental Health 

The Canadian Coalition For Seniors' Mental Health offers useful information. There are other steps you can take to prevent problems, and improve a senior's mental health.

One example is physical exercise. Activity can prevent anxiety and depression. The physical benefits of exercise are actually good for his mind. When seniors participate in exercise routines, increased blood flow to the brain improves alertness, memory, and concentration. A senior will feel good about himself when he is active and physically fit.

Networking can keep him connected to other people. Technology (live chat) is especially beneficial to older persons who live alone. The older person can discuss his concerns with others who will understand. He can make new friends, too. However, it is useful to seniors regardless of their living arrangements. Technology offers the chance to communicate with other people, but it offers so much more. The senior who has a PC or other device can read the news every day, play games, and explore other interests. He can stay connected to people and the world outside his home. It can do wonders to relieve isolation and loneliness.

Instead of watching years of their lives pass by, they can be active and connected. Elderly persons do not need to be affected by mental health problems associated with loneliness, isolation, and aging. Men and women in the senior years can have excellent mental health, and truly enjoy their lives.

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