Pamela knew it was time to retire. Where she once joyfully juggled mothering three young children and a bustling teaching career, she now came home to an empty home and felt overwhelmed by the chaos of her classroom. Many older adults increasingly report loneliness, mental stress, and depression. As circumstances and seasons change, it is normal to feel disoriented. Retirement and old age bring a new string of challenges and losses. We all know how much humans typically like change.
Making choices to support your mental health may look different in your senior years than it ever has before. Permitting yourself to take good care of your mental health and arming yourself with knowledge are great first steps to staying well.
Village Green Retirement Community in Federal Way, Washington provides a wealth of opportunities to support mental and physical wellness. We understand the vital role of healthy routines and community connection in our residents’ daily lives. We’re pleased to create these opportunities to keep barriers to participating in your well-being low so that you can spend your time enjoying them.
Mental Health and Aging
The Center for Disease Control reports that twenty percent of older adults over the age of sixty meet the criteria for a mental health diagnosis at any given time. Older adults comprise a high percentage of patients with dementia and other cognitive concerns because these symptoms often appear at an advanced age. Other common mental health diagnoses for seniors include anxiety and depression, which can be set off by major life changes in this season.
Common Mental Health Symptoms older adults report include:
- Change in appetite
- Low energy, feeling down or uninterested in usual pastimes
- Change in sleep patterns
- Mood swings
- Increased forgetfulness
- Difficulty stopping racing thoughts
Brain Health for Seniors
Improve your mental health by making mental health maintenance part of your routine. Like brushing your teeth or cleaning up after a meal, proactive mental practices can be a brief and simple but vital to health and future functioning. Consider a few of the following ideas to address brain health daily.
Balanced nutrition rich in leafy greens and healthy fats supports brain health and powers your body with the right ingredients for wellness.
Any writing activities are fantastic elements of a daily routine. Bullet journals, memory notebooks, daily diaries, and gratitude journals are daily writing practices that help you collect your thoughts, focus on the present, and leave a record.
Channel your thoughts and feelings into something beautiful. Pick up an old hobby or venture into completely new territory. Try a class or experiment with arts and crafts with kits at home until you find a creative outlet that speaks to you.
4. Social Connection
Human beings are social creatures. Intimacy is important. Interacting with others activates many regions of our brains like nothing else. Social ties protect against mental health risk. Visit with friends and family as often as you can. Keep standing social gatherings like religious services or book clubs, especially if you live alone. It can be easy to slide into solitude without noticing. If you’re not sure where to start, engage in solo activities like walking in the park near other people.
Mindfulness and meditation practices are well-established practices that support positive mental health. There are a number of different ways to achieve the centered, present benefits of meditation. Not every practice works for everyone. Try another style if your first attempt at meditation isn’t for you. What kind of activities make you feel at ease? Guided meditation, intentional quiet time, repetitive or simple tasks, and prayers are all examples of meditation.
Nurturing life and spending time in the sunshine are good for mental health. Get your hands dirty and leave something beautiful behind with a little landscaping.
In addition to physical benefits, your brain makes good use of chemicals your body produces when you exercise. Anything that gets you moving is exercise. Chose something fun like a nature walk or explore a new city. Try chair yoga or swimming if you need low-impact exercise options.
How to Address Mental Health Concerns in Older Adults
Coping with anxiety and depression can be challenging for anyone. You may notice an increase in mental health symptoms, increase your frequency and variety of proactive mental health strategies and talk to trusted people in your life so that they have the opportunity to support you.
If you notice mental health concerns in a senior loved one, lend a supportive, nonjudgemental ear, but don’t push the issue if they aren’t ready to talk. Continue to be available so that you are a trusted resource on another day.
When to Seek Help for Mental Health
Sometimes mental health concerns require serious intervention. Older adults are at greater risk for suicide than many other populations. The CDC indicates that the rate of suicide in adult men over 85 is quadruple the national average. Mental health symptoms need not be that dire before warranting intervention. Everyone deserves to feel better and enjoy themselves.
Seek mental health support if your daily life is impacted by your symptoms.
Come Home to Village Green
If you’re interested in a rich community and a wide array of options for recreation and connection to keep your brain and lifestyle moving, consider Village Green Retirement Community in Federal Way, Washington. Our wide variety of services and options, from retirement communities to assisted living services, means you will find your perfect fit with us, even if your needs change. We are looking forward to connecting with you.