As you get older, it only makes sense to pay more attention to your health. You can start exercising more or stretching to avoid pain. You may be paying attention to your diet and adopting healthier eating habits.
But one side of our health that is often ignored is mental health. Mental health is a serious and growing problem in older adults. In addition to universal stressors that can lead to depression and other mental health problems, risk factors for older adults include isolation and loneliness, and the loss of capacity and function that can be caused by physical health problems such as:
- Chronic pain
- limited mobility
Mental health can also have a significant impact on physical health. The World Health Organization reports that seniors with depression have a harder time struggling with chronic problems like heart disease than their counterparts.
So how can seniors work on their mental health, just as they exercise or eat better, to keep them in good physical shape?
# 1 Stay social
One of the best advices for living in old age to follow is to keep up with an active social life to improve your mental health. Socializing keeps the brain active and prevents feelings of loneliness and isolation.
It helps find a hobby or activity that you can do with other people – such as a crafting, learning a new skill, or joining a book or movie club.
Where you live has a huge impact on how easily and frequently you can get in touch with friends and neighbors. Senior living communities can make it easier to stay connected with a community of people and participate in activities like exercise groups.
# 2 Get a pet
Caring for a pet is a great way to combat mental health issues. They provide constant accompaniment and can help keep you active even when psychological symptoms make it difficult to motivate yourself.
Whether you throw your cat’s favorite toy around the room or take your beloved dog for a walk, you will form a bond that will reduce loneliness and keep you from feeling withdrawn.
# 3 exercise
Exercise doesn’t just benefit your physical aid; it is also a boon to your sanity. Exercise can relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression, and prevent health conditions that can lead to mental health problems.
Regular exercise releases endorphins, a natural brain chemical that is responsible for this “feeling of wellbeing”. It can also take your mind off your worries, help you feel motivated, and even make social interactions easier. Joining a training group is a great way to combine the benefits of exercise and socializing.
# 4 Challenge the brain
Challenging your brain can reduce your risk of developing dementia, depression, and other mental illnesses. Whether it’s solving the daily crossword puzzle, signing up for a class to learn something new, or just having engaging conversations with friends and family, an active brain is a happy one.