Aging Gracefully with Mental Wellness
These days, a lot of marketing is geared towards keeping us youthful. Ads for facial creams, exercise gadgets, cool new apps - they are all designed to bring images of young vitality to mind. But in reality, aging can be a difficult and challenging process. The mental wellness of seniors can become increasingly fragile, and it’s a topic not discussed nearly enough in the public forum.
Instead of fighting the inevitable, how can we age gracefully with a positive attitude? Populations across the world are rapidly growing older and the percentage of seniors will rise over the next decades. Knowledge of how to age well can help everyone - after all, every human being ages.
According to the CDC for people 55 years or older, 20% suffer from mental health issues. That’s one in five seniors. Usually it presents as anxiety, depression, cognitive disruption, or a related problem. Some people believe that mental health problems are a part of growing older, but that doesn’t have to be the case. We can learn about and tend to our own minds, and with some effort and self care we can age gracefully with emotional balance.
Here are a few ways we can do that.
Lowering stress levels - Stress is known to cause a barrage of negative mental and physical health consequences, putting a strain on our heart, our cognitive performance, blood pressure, and a host of other bodily functions. Keeping your mind on relaxing, positive activities will go a long way towards mental ease and wellness.
Finding new interests that broaden your horizons. It can seem daunting, when one has passed a certain age, to embark on a new journey. But if you can conquer that hesitance there is a wealth of great experiences awaiting. New hobbies like learning an instrument, learning new technology, or a new exercise can keep your mind and body fresh.
Make new friends. Stay social with friends of all ages. Make new friends and keep in touch with old ones. It can even be fun and enriching to become friendly with younger individuals. They may keep you feeling vital and afoot of the goings-on in the world.
Eat well and stay active. Take care of your body, eat a nutritious diet and as we get older it may become necessary to take additional supplements. Some form of regular exercise will help too - it was good while younger but it’s still good now. Keeping your body in shape and able as much as possible can add a sense of empowerment to your daily life.
Start a mindfulness practice. Mindfulness practice, or as some call it “mindfulness meditation” is shown to be extremely effective in helping calm the mind and body. Some studies even show it may increase mental sharpness and slow the aging process of the brain, although further studies need to be held. There are countless resources online to get your started on your path to mindfulness, try neuroscientist Sam Harris’s “Waking Up” or the much talked about “Headspace.”
Cultivate a sense of purpose. With a sense of purpose or meaning in our day, we as people tend to have more “get-up-and-go.” When we can articulate our goals and values it helps us with motivation to stay positive.
And remember, when talking to an older person be aware that they may be used to a different lifestyle than your own. If you are taking care of an older loved one or friend, please be tactful in how you suggest things or inform them of something. Be gentle and kind - and this applies for everyone else, too!
Bregman Medical Group has decades of experience treating patients of all ages with a wide variety of mental health challenges. We offer online treatment right to your device and we offer in-person treatment at our South Florida office. Simply call 305-740-3340 or visit www.bregmanmd.com.