Maintaining the mental health of seniors is as important as having regular check-ups with your GP. The social stigma of mental illness makes people reluctant to seek help, and this leads to serious problems. We must remember that the elderly are particularly vulnerable to loneliness and social isolation. How to ensure that the quality of life of an elderly loved one does not decrease over the years?
What Affects The Mental Health Of A Senior?
Ageing is associated with many changes. Approaching retirement often causes stress which poses a serious threat to your physical and mental health. Additionally, over the years, the sensitivity and intensity of feeling emotions increases. Changes in the psyche depend on many factors: health conditions, natural changes in the brain, character, physical and mental activity, habits, lifestyle and attitude towards old age.
Deteriorating health, professional financial problems related to low pensions, inactivity, loss of a loved one, difficulties in performing daily activities can worsen the mood and even lead to depression. It is the most common mental disorder in seniors aged 60 and over. Especially affecting lonely, isolated and dependent people.
There is an undeniable link between the occurrence of depression and other diseases of old age. When diagnosed with cancer, dementia or heart problems, you have a huge impact on your well-being. It is extremely important to support the senior in this difficult period. Warm words or conversation will make the mentee regain a sense of security. Watch the elderly person to see what they need most. Sometimes the senior requires only company.
Caring For Mental Health And Social Isolation
Social isolation and loneliness are the greatest enemies of seniors. When we try to provide mental health support to the elderly, we must take into account the problem of social isolation. This age group is particularly vulnerable to the devastating effects of marginalization due to old age. Cognitive impairment and disability effectively prevent socialization.
Lack of contact with the family, difficulties in social contacts will cause anxiety. It is well known that stress is not good for us. Scientific research clearly shows the devastating link between social isolation and heart complaints, insomnia, inflammation, and gastrointestinal disease. Overall, looking after your mental health will prevent frequent visits to the hospital.
You should know that anxiety can manifest itself in different ways. As a carer for the elderly, you should learn to recognize the symptoms of your mentee.
Sometimes we just don’t know how to care for the mental health of older people . The first step will be to recognize their psychological needs. American gerontologist Clark Tibbitt has created a helpful classification:
- The need to perform socially useful activities,
- The necessity to use free time satisfactorily,
- Need to maintain normal social contacts,
- The need to create opportunities for self-expression,
- Need for access to healthcare,
- The need for a properly established lifestyle and maintaining relationships with the family,
- Need for appropriate mental and mental stimulation,
- The need for spiritual satisfaction.
How To Take Care Of The Psyche In Old Age?
How to fight social isolation and support the elderly in the field of mental health? First, seniors should be encouraged to keep close and talk frequently with family and friends. Today, technology allows us to stay connected easily, even when we are thousands of kilometres apart. You can teach your mentee to use Skype, Whatsapp, Messenger or Zoom, or help them make a video call with their family.
Try to establish a structure for your daily life and maintain it. Another important aspect is the administration of balanced meals. If there are no contraindications, you can try the DASH diet, which is considered by experts to be the healthiest diet in the world. Take care of the physical and mental activity of the senior. If you do not know where to start, we recommend our guides on how a babysitter can take care of the physical activity of the elderly and the organization of leisure time for the elderly.
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