Mental health affects us all in one way or another. While we see professionals and students facing havoc in their lives from stress, anxiety, and depression, the elderly population also have concerning problems related to mental health. The CDC declares that 20% of the population of age 55 and above faces some kind of mental health problem in their lives, which is a crucial factor to consider.
This article is here to discuss the problems the elderly face that put a strain on their mental health and the possible solutions that will help mitigate the effect these problems have on people.
1. Increased Anxiety
The elderly age group often experience anxiety. There are different factors that are the cause behind it. With retirement and savings going lesser with time, old people find it hard to stay worry-free about their financial status. The cost of living and medical expenses especially play a big role in causing this anxiety. This is because of the certain biological processes going on in the geriatric population — decreased immunity, increased malnutrition, sarcopenia, and other ageing processes.
2. Anticipatory Grief
Old age is the time when one tries to become familiar with death. They are already seeing their loved ones and age fellows die. As they approach their late years, this grief goes magnified. Not only do they find themselves mourning about their coming demise but also they get in more grief as they realize that their loved ones will miss them. The heightened anticipatory grief in these individuals is a source of undue stress and sadness.
The paranoia that comes around financial and health uncertainty, and dependency on someone else are real. This age group knows they are more susceptible to being dependent on someone else. For example, they might start forgetting how to use things due to dementia.
Any time they touch anything from outside or forget to wash their hands before eating, they can get scared about getting infected with a germ, which makes them paranoid, for example.
4. Neurodegenerative Disease Progression
Diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease are those neurological conditions that progress over time. With an already affected mental health, the progress rate of these diseases gets even faster. “This is of deep concern as people with these conditions who were once doing their best to slow down the progression of these diseases are now dwelling into the fast progressive stage”. This is especially true for the elderly who are trying their best with medications and other therapies to alleviate any recurrent symptoms and the progression.
All of these points solidify the fact that people of this age group should pay special attention to their mental health, especially when they notice memory problems, mood swings, and more. While there is negativity everywhere, there are certain ways that will help you to improve your mental health.
What Can be Done?
There are certain ways that this population can improve their mental health in trying times. The best and foremost attitude to keep in mind is to stay positive and stop getting hard on yourself as you face the situation. Some other tips that will help this population improve their mental health and mitigate the effects of the situation are described as under:
1. Talk to Friends and Relatives
Take time to talk to friends and relatives. You don’t have to go meet them in order to talk. If they don’t leave near you, you can try to video call them and engage yourself in a positive conversation. A key takeaway to note here is that you don’t have to talk about anything that causes an increase in anxiety. Rather focus on shared interests and jokes with one another to light up your heart. You will instantly feel an improvement in your mood.
2. Give Time to Hobbies
Another way to improve your mental health is to give some time to hobbies. Now, the elderly group is likely to think they don’t belong to the age that would enjoy a hobby. It turns out to be wrong in reality. Try a new hobby or get yourself involved in something in which you could not get involved when you were younger. Now is the perfect time to celebrate your retirement years and live the life that you always wanted to live.
3. Join Social Groups
It is alright to be alone, but too much of it can cause you to become depressed. You might start overthinking over certain things like health issues or financial insecurities. It is better to give your mind a break from these negative thoughts and look for some groups. There are a lot of communities and hubs specifically designed for the geriatric age groups all over the world. You can join them and find someone to talk to or share your ideas about positive things. It will help you stay in the lane and be focused on the present moment, another great tip for this age group.
4. Practice Meditation
Try to practice meditation daily. You don’t have to do a proper yoga session. This is especially true if you have some joint or back pain problem. Simply sit in a comfortable chair or your bed and relax breathing (in from your nose and out from your mouth slowly); now think of positive thoughts gushing through your mind, and you are good to go. Doing this for at least ten minutes a day will unleash a lot of benefits for you.
Although mental health issues point to huge trouble for geriatric age groups, one should not lose hope as there are multiple ways to fight off the blues and the dark pits. We hope this article gives you valuable insight on how different aspects of life are troubling for the mental health of older people and then what are the practical and simple ways through which this age group can work on their mental health.
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