Many seniors find themselves struggling to stay busy and engaged, and as a result, they can often suffer from heightened stress, anxiety, and depression. In fact, the National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that over 6 million seniors in the US are suffering from depression. This can be due to multiple factors including an inability to stay as mobile as they once were, loneliness after children have grown up and left the family home, and finding themselves bored and unengaged with the activities that they once took part in. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seniors who live independently are at the lowest risk for depression. But despite the numbers, depression in seniors is often overlooked simply because the symptoms can often be mistaken for those from other diseases that are often common in old age, such as arthritis or gastrointestinal problems. So, what are the keys to boosting senior wellbeing and reducing the risk rate of depression?
Seniors who are able to continue living as independently as possible tend to have the lowest rates of depression. Seniors who are able to move around independently, enjoy their own home, and have a greater degree of autonomy over their lives while having support there as and when they need it tend to be the happiest. After all, nobody wants to feel like they are losing control over their own life. Some ways to encourage this include opting for an independent living facility or in-home caregivers rather than a nursing home, and providing seniors with limited mobility with ways to get around. Afikim Mobility Schooters, often called Afiscooters, are a great option for providing seniors with a greater degree of independence.
Exercise is crucial for a healthy body and mind, so encouraging seniors to exercise can work wonders when it comes to boosting health and wellbeing. Seniors who go for a daily walk, for example, tend to experience lower rates of depression compared to those who are immobile. And there are various types of gentle exercises that are easy for seniors to do, even if they have mobility problems. Senior exercise classes can be an ideal option for those who need to find a type of physical activity that works well for them, from swimming to exercises that can be done sat down.
For many seniors, loneliness is one of the biggest causes of depression. Once children have grown up and moved out to start their own families, many seniors are left living alone for the first time, and mobility problems can often make it difficult to get out and spend time with friends. It’s important to provide options for seniors to socialize as often as possible, from senior centers with regular activities and hobby groups to classes that seniors can join to spend time doing things that they enjoy while making new friends at the same time.
Families can play a huge part in encouraging senior health and wellbeing. If you have a senior relative such as a parent or a grandparent, it’s important to find as many ways as possible to include them in family gatherings. Spending time with children and grandchildren can be a huge boost to mental health. Be mindful of tiredness and try to keep visits regular but short if you feel that they are taking a toll on your relative’s energy.
Many seniors today are no stranger to technology and while your gran might not be as adept at using the iPad as a younger person, there are plenty of simple and easy apps that seniors can use to stay in touch with the wider world. Regular phone calls with friends and loved ones can have a huge impact on mental health in a positive way and the option to send emails and social media messages can be excellent for seniors who may not have the mobility to get out very often. FaceTime, Skype, and WhatsApp video calling are all great options for seniors who may not live close to their extended families and do not often get to see them in person.
You are simply never too old to learn something new and in fact, many people decide to go back to school or attend classes during their golden years in order to keep their brains active and perhaps learn a new skill that they have not had time for until now. There are many ways for seniors to learn something new, whether it’s joining a new hobby group to learn art or try woodcrafts, or taking an online course to learn how to use a new technology.
Getting a pet can be extremely helpful for seniors who struggle to get out of the house and socialize very often. Caring for a pet can certainly give somebody of any age a sense of purpose and the unconditional love that you get from your pets is second-to-none, whether you are a cat or a dog person. Cats can be excellent pets for seniors who struggle to get out while dogs are ideal for seniors who want to be more active and need a reason to get out for that daily walk. Having an animal can help to reduce depression rates, improve social engagement, and boost feelings of calm.
Finding new ways of staying engaged and entertained can help to lift spirits and improve depression rates in seniors. There are plenty of games and puzzles that seniors can play either with others or on their own to have fun and keep their brains active. Crossword puzzles, word searches, Sudoku, and jigsaw puzzles are excellent for solo players and can certainly keep you occupied for some time. Social games including card games provide great opportunities for striking up conversations and spending more time with a circle of friends.
Seniors are one of the highest risk groups when it comes to depression and other mental illnesses, but the good news is that there are plenty of ways to improve senior happiness and wellbeing.