Most people know how important it is for seniors to focus on keeping their bodies in shape as they get older. However, many of the same people overlook the importance of having a similar focus on the mind. Depression and other mood disorders are common issues facing old adults, and they’re likely to cause other problems as well.
Seniors struggling with mental health problems are more likely to isolate themselves from others and neglect other aspects of their health. Moreover, the stress from unaddressed mood disorders can have a serious impact on physical well-being. This means they’re at a higher risk for major health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways for seniors to make their mental health a priority. Here are a few things you can do to keep your mind well in your golden years.
Something you may already be doing for your physical health is great your mind as well: regular exercise. Thirty minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a day does wonders for your mood. Getting your body moving burns up built-up adrenaline caused by stress and releases endorphins, creating a mood-boosting effect that lasts.
Meeting with Friends and Family
Social isolation is one of the most common symptoms of depression. It’s one of many mood disorder symptoms that causes a vicious cycle: Sufferers are more likely to isolate themselves, but isolation only makes depression symptoms worse. This makes isolation one of the hardest parts of depression to shake.
Fortunately, if you make a regular habit of meeting up with friends and family, you can reduce your odds of social isolation. Not only will you see people regularly, but you’ll also have plenty of people who will notice if you regularly start canceling plans. The more people around who can check-in and ask if you’re okay, the more likely you are to notice depression symptoms before they become unmanageable and a threat to your overall health.
Learning New Things
Often times, negative feelings crop up around feelings of being stuck or stagnant, and these can be especially potent for seniors. If you spent most of your life putting your energy into your career, it’s easy to feel lost at sea when you retire. However, picking up new hobbies or taking a class or two at a local university can be just what you need to pull yourself out of a funk. Not only will this satisfy your urge to grow, but it might also just be your path to a new passion.
Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
Quality rest is a vital tool for maintaining mental wellness. If your sleep suffers, you suffer as well. Unfortunately, many seniors deal with poor sleep quality. If you struggle to fall or stay asleep, consider taking steps to improve your sleep hygiene. This can include turning the TV off an hour before bedtime, reading before you go to sleep, and avoiding late-night snacks. These are little changes, but they can make a difference when it comes to getting some shut-eye.
Seeking Help When Needed
Though there are a number of ways you can focus on mental health on your own, there are situations where it’s important to seek medical care. If you find that you’re experiencing long periods of sadness or a feeling of emptiness, or you have any kind of suicidal thoughts, talk to your doctor. Mental illness is a medical problem, and your physician has ways they can help. You do not have to face this issue by yourself.
If you are 65 or older, you are eligible for Medicare and can get mental health coverage through those plans. Medicare Advantage plans may offer even broader coverage, including dental, vision, and other wellness plans, meaning you’ll have an easier time getting all the care you need. If you aren’t already enrolled, you can apply for Medicare during the Medicare Open Enrollment Period, which runs from October 15 to December 7.
A holistic approach to your mental and physical health is your best bet as you get older. Focus on your mind and your body, and you’ll be well set to enjoy your golden years.
Photo Credit: Pixabay