Having a better understanding of aging and mental health can provide some guidance for anyone who’s caring for an aging loved one. By knowing what to expect, what’s considered normal, and what can be valid reasons for concern, you’ll be able to be more proactive when it comes to your loved one’s mental health needs. Below are eight important facts about aging and mental health to keep in mind.
1. Mental Health Problems in Seniors Aren’t “Normal”
While seniors do experience occasional periods of depression and instances of increased stress and anxiety, serious mental health issues aren’t a normal part of the aging process. What’s more, a University of Chicago study suggests older adults are generally happier than their younger counterparts.
An in-home caregiver can monitor your loved one for changes in behavior and mood that may indicate an unmet mental health need. One of the most challenging tasks of helping an elderly relative age in place safely and comfortably is researching agencies that provide home care service. Turn to Assisting Hands Home Care for reliable, high-quality in-home care for aging adults. We offer 24-hour care for seniors who require extensive assistance, and we also offer respite care for family caregivers who need a break from their caregiving duties.
2. Exercise Provides a Mental Health Boost for Older Adults
Regular exercise does more than just keep aging bones, joints, and muscles strong. Low-impact aerobics, water-based activities, and yoga are just some of the forms of exercise that can provide a mood boost by increasing the production of “feel-good” hormones called endorphins.
Professional home caregivers can help seniors exercise at home safely. Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same type of at-home care. Potomac families can rely on Assisting Hands Home Care to provide individualized care plans to meet their elderly loved ones’ unique care needs. Our caregivers help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and we offer mentally stimulating activities that can boost cognitive health and delay the onset of dementia.
3. Dementia May Trigger Depression in Seniors
According to the Geriatric Mental Health Foundation, dementia often triggers depression in seniors. This may happen during dementia’s early stages, when an older adult is still aware of what’s happening. However, with proper adjustments to care, seniors may be able to stay as mentally healthy as possible while managing the challenges of dementia.
4. Intact Memory Reduces Disability Risk for Active Seniors
Researchers at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center cite findings suggesting older seniors with intact memory function have a lower disability risk, especially when they’re physically active. Staying social and getting sufficient sleep are just some of the ways seniors may be able to maintain memory function.
5. Ongoing Learning Can Be Mentally Beneficial for Seniors
An aging brain is still capable of learning new things. In fact, making an effort to keep learning is one of the steps often recommended to reduce the risk of age-related cognitive decline. Ongoing learning can even help seniors discover new purposes and passions to further maintain mental health while aging.
6. Many Factors Can Affect Seniors’ Mental Health
Mental health among the elderly is more complex than what’s often assumed, which is why it’s considered just as important as physical health. Ultimately, the mental health of a senior can be influenced by factors that include:
- Medications being taken for other reasons
- Chronic health conditions
- Post-traumatic stress disorder related to a traumatic life event
7. Substance Abuse Can Have a Serious Impact on Senior Mental Health
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports nearly 20 percent of adults 60 and over are affected by prescription drug or alcohol abuse. Addictions of this nature can have a significant impact on mental health and wellbeing if not professionally diagnosed and treated.
8. Suicide Is a Risk for Seniors
It’s not pleasant to talk about, but suicide rates are highest among older age groups. The bright spot is many seniors can successfully handle depression and other mental health issues that tend to contribute to suicidal thoughts when warning signs like prolonged periods of sadness and unexplained behavioral changes are spotted and treatment is sought.
A home caregiver can be a wonderful source of companionship, support, and encouragement for your loved one. If your senior loved one needs around-the-clock assistance at home, the Potomac, MD, live-in care professionals at Assisting Hands Home Care are here to help. Our caregivers promote longevity by encouraging seniors to focus on healthy eating, regular exercise, mental engagement, and other important lifestyle factors. For more information about our flexible, customizable home care plans, call one of our compassionate Care Specialists today.