Mental health is not something we thought about in the past. It’s something we tended to bury beneath resentment and false smiles. But in 2023, mental health is something people are taking very seriously indeed and with good reason. Suicide remains a leading cause of death in men and negative thoughts are not unique to younger people. Elderly people have mental health problems too and these are often overlooked.
That’s why it’s so important to learn about the best practices for maintaining good mental health in older age.
1. Be open and honest
It’s important to be able to talk to people. Don’t let emotions bottle up and don’t allow resentments to fester. If you are feeling unhappy and lonely, let somebody know whether it’s your children, your friends or the staff at your retirement community. Suffering in silence might have been seen as strong and resilient in the 20th century but now it’s seen as a symptom of a bygone age that we’re better off without.
2. Keep active
Exercise can not only improve heart health and keep your joints nimble, but it releases endorphins that will significantly help your mental health. If you are a fan of golf, consider putting together a regular golf trip with your friends to indulge in your old hobby and give yourself and your peers a reason to exercise. Because golf might not be as high energy as a sport like football but it still has lots of health benefits and can really give your mental health a boost.
3. Spend time in nature
Nature has many therapeutic benefits that can assist those with age-related mental health problems. Consider going for regular walks in the countryside or even just your local park. The peace and tranquillity you’ll find in nature is something modern life cannot offer you.
4. Practice mindfulness
Mindfulness is the practice of being aware and present in each moment without judgment. It can be a powerful tool to help manage stress, anxiety and depression. Mindfulness can be practiced in many ways, such as deep breathing exercises, yoga and meditation.
5. Maintain a social circle
Humans are social creatures, no matter their age. Regardless of how little motivation you may have to leave the house, try to stay socially active with your friends or family members. So, take part in social groups, host friends regularly with nights out and nights in and keep in touch with people over social media, where possible. Facebook is a particularly powerful tool for ensuring we don’t lose touch with our loved ones.
6. Look after your physical health
It’s important not to lapse into bad habits in your old age as we need all the help we can get when our bodies start failing us. Ensure you’re getting around 7-9 hours of sleep every night and that you’re showering every morning to keep on top of your hygiene.
Maintaining a healthy diet is also crucial. Consider perhaps investing in a meal service that delivers fresh ingredients to your door or asking others for help if you’re struggling to cook for yourself.
7. Pursue hobbies that bring joy into your life
It’s important to stay interested in the things you enjoy and that bring a bit of joy into your life. Maybe it’s reading, gardening or playing an instrument – whatever it is, make sure to set some time aside each day to have fun.
8. Connect with younger generations
This might sound counterintuitive but connecting with younger generations can be hugely beneficial to your mental health. They’ll bring new perspectives and experiences which may help you appreciate how far we have come in terms of our knowledge, technology and thinking.
9. Seek professional help if needed
Sometimes it’s okay to admit that you need a bit of extra help when dealing with mental health issues. Whether it’s seeing your doctor, seeking therapy or joining a support group, don’t be afraid to reach out for help if needed. Mental health is just as important as physical health and should be treated with the same respect and care.
Remember, you are never too old to take control of your mental health and wellbeing. With the right support and strategies, you can live a long and healthy life with improved mental well-being. So don’t forget to check in with yourself every now and then and actively seek out ways that you can make yourself feel better. Good luck!