Along with our physical wellbeing, our mental health is essential to our enjoyment of life, especially as we age.
Mental ill health, like depression and anxiety, is underdiagnosed in seniors, and symptoms can be overlooked because they occur alongside other challenges faced by older people.
But mental health can be improved and protected through active, healthy ageing practices.
Here are some tips on protecting your mental health in older age.
Self-advocacy is defined as “the ability to communicate your needs.” Those who self-advocate are shown to be more likely to thrive.
Being aware and informed about seniors’ rights, options, and vulnerabilities can help you become a better advocate for yourself. The Older Persons Advocacy Network helps older Australians to be educated self-advocates.
Having a hobby
Hobbies can help improve your mood, your memory, and can help you manage stress.
Ask yourself what interests you. Nature? Creative expression? Engaging your brain? Maybe you can pick up an old hobby again. Some hobbies, like golf or boardgames, can help you to expand your social circle.
You can search on Facebook or Meetup to find social clubs related to your hobby.
Studies show that involvement in cultural activities reduces the risk of depression in older people.
Participating in cultural activities can help you get in touch with your heritage, connect you with others from your culture, and can help you to feel like “yourself” again.
Cultural activities might include joining a local group, attending a cultural celebration, or reconnecting with cultural art and media.
Research shows that older adults are much more likely to seek help for physical pain rather than for mental health.
Remember, your brain is a critical organ in your body and your mental health can directly impact your physical health.
Mental ill health is nothing to be ashamed of, and prioritising your mental wellbeing is a brave first step to healing.
Here is a list of important phone numbers for seniors.
Studies show that participation in community activities is beneficial to mental health in seniors.
You can get involved in the community by:
- Attending free local events
- Becoming a regular at a local café
- Joining local groups based on your hobbies
- Connecting with your local community centre.
Maintaining physical health
Mental health and physical health go hand in hand. You can improve your mental health by making sure you are eating well, sleeping enough, and exercising regularly.
Some gentle activities that promote physical health include healthy eating, taking a daily walk, and practising yoga and stretching.
Peer support and social connection
Making friends at any age can feel scary – but you’re never too old to make new friends!
Research shows that social support is directly correlated with resilience amongst older adults.
Some ideas for staying social later in life include:
- Rekindling old friendships
- Joining local groups for seniors
- Ringing a friend or family member
- Sparking up a conversation with a neighbour.
Relationships Australia Queensland’s Senior Social Connection Program helps older Queenslanders in Sunshine Coast and Gympie to stay connected.
If you or an older person you know is feeling lonely or socially isolated, our Senior Relationships Services are here to help. Our experienced counsellors and community educators can help you explore your concerns and possible solutions in a safe and supportive environment.
You can learn more about our Senior Social Connection Program here, or call 1300 063 232 to make an appointment.