October 1 is celebrated as the International Day for the Older Persons. The aim of celebrating this day is to make everyone aware of the significance of our senior citizens in society as well as to acknowledge their contributions. They are not only responsible for shaping our future and society but they also pass on the traditions, culture, and knowledge of our society to us.
However, these senior citizens are extremely vulnerable as many of them often seem to suffer from poverty and serious health diseases. They also experience discrimination from society. Because of this, they’re often exposed to abuse which can have a harmful impact on the mind and body.
International day for the elderly is celebrated every year to prevent these above-mentioned issues.
Seniors and Mental Health
Mental health involves our psychological, emotional as well as social well-being, which impacts how we feel, act, and think as we try to cope with life. It also determines how we deal with stress or depression and make choices in life. Having balanced mental health is very essential in every phase of our life, even when we are old and grey.
Many older people often suffer from mental health issues, however, it doesn’t mean that it is a part of the process of getting old. Sometimes, significant life changes can easily make them feel stressed, sad, and uneasy. Such changes can involve retirement, having to deal with a bad situation, or even the death of a close one. Many older people would ultimately learn to cope with reality but for some people, it can be quite tough to cope. This can lead to many mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.
It is crucial to identify and treat issues of mental health in people of older age. These issues ultimately cause damage to their overall health, especially if they suffer from chronic disorders.
Here are a few signs of mental health-related disorders that older people often suffer from:
- Mood swings and low energy
- Change in the sleeping and eating habits
- Feeling numb
- Feeling hopelessness or sadness
- Having unexplained pains and aches
- Feeling angry, confused, worried, upset, and even scared
- Withdrawing from things they previously used to enjoy
- Irritability and aggressiveness
- Believing things and hearing voices that aren’t true
If you come to notice these above-mentioned signs in the older members of your family, you should take care of them and also get them immediate medical attention.
Helping the Elderly to Achieve Better Mental Health
There are a few ways through which you can ensure the older adults around you can enjoy a better mental health:
1. Playing Games
Once someone reaches older age, their brain needs to be stimulated as much as their body requires physical activities to stay fit. It helps the brain to prevent cognitive decline and stay strong as they grow old.
Many studies have shown that playing brain-related games such as solving crossword puzzles can help maintain certain skills like planning, processing speed, decision-making, short-term memory, and reaction time. Any activity which helps to keep one’s mind engaged can help in achieving better mental health.
2. Learning a New Language
Getting to learn a language can help exercise some areas of the brain that often get affected when someone is ageing. It can help the seniors to develop confidence and become social with those who are learning the same language. Moreover, this way, they would not feel alone or left out.
3. Writing and Reading
Many studies have found that reading daily can help one strengthen their memory function, decrease stress, and help achieve better sleep. Reading informative books or writing a journal can help manage and alleviate the side effects of anxiety and stress.
4. Learning to Play an Instrument
It has been observed that music can help to stimulate one’s brain and develop memory in older people with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Learning to play an instrument not only is fun but it will also help develop verbal fluency as well as improve processing speed in a few months.
Even playing numerous puzzle games has shown to reduce memory decline and improve mental health in seniors.
5. Becoming Physically Active
From doing yoga classes regularly to going for a walk every day, performing physical activities can help both, the body and mind, by reducing scope of major injuries/health issues and increasing confidence in the body. Staying fit and doing enough exercise regularly are as significant for seniors’ well-being and mental health as they are for teens and young adults.
Low impactful exercises like strength training and stretching are essential for seniors to be healthy and decrease the risk of age-related issues like joint pain, bone fractures, and various other illnesses related to chronic disorders. Moreover, exercise can help reduce anxiety, depression, and manage stress in older people. Exercising or practising yoga to achieve stable mental health is important for seniors.
6. Staying Close and Connected
As people grow old, they withdraw themselves from their family members, even friends. Sometimes, family members also don’t bother to pay much attention to them or spend time with them. This can make it tough for them to cope with life. This often leads to feelings of isolation and loneliness, which can also lead to depression along with physical and mental decline.
In such situations, family members need to approach them, have a little chat with them once in a while, involve them in everything, and play with them, encouraging them to go out and talk with people of the same age group. It will help them to have their own social life and be connected with their families as well. This will not only help them to feel less lonely but it will also prevent mental health problems like anxiety, depression, etc.
Having stable mental health is extremely essential for seniors as it is essential to have a healthy body and mind. It not only contributes to preventing mental health problems like anxiety and depression but also sharpens the skills like thinking, planning, making a decision, mind processing, etc.
They often feel neglected in society as well as by their family members for being old and frail. For this reason, International Day of Older Persons comes as a reminder to spread awareness and help our older generation to have better mental and physical health.