By Betsy Smith MiCAFE Network Shareholder and Partner Manager at Elder Law of Michigan
Stress and depression can have adverse effects on our physical health, and when left unchecked, both can lead to chronic conditions. To raise awareness about the importance of mental well-being, October is observed as Emotional Wellness Month.
Many seniors enjoy the freedom of retirement; fewer responsibilities, and more time for travel and other leisure activities. For others, declining health, loneliness, limited income, and dependency on others present ongoing challenges in their lives. Unfortunately, depression in older adults is often overlooked because it presents itself as symptoms of diseases. It’s become apparent that depression may contribute to declining physical health, and declining physical health may lead to depression.
These challenges can seem overwhelming at times, so here are some simple things you can do to boost your well-being and mental health.
- Stay Connected – Stay connected with your friends. The social stimulation will do you all good. Schedule phone calls with your loved ones. Try Skype or FaceTime for video calls. Send cards or letters through email or text.
- Exercise – Exercise is essential for both the body and the mind. If you have physical limitations, you can always try chair exercises.
- Play Games – Word puzzles, crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, and games like Sudoku keep your brain healthy and stimulated. Card games with friends are also a great opportunity to socialize.
- Volunteer – Volunteering is a terrific way to give back to your community and add meaning to your life. Contact your local school district, church or senior center to find volunteer opportunities.
- Make a Spiritual Connection – Religion, and the community that comes with it can offer meaningful activities and support.
- Get a Pet – Caring for a pet can be helpful. Animals can lead to a person becoming more socially engaged and less depressed.
- Music and Art – Music and art allow people to communicate through non-traditional means. They can have a healing effect allowing seniors to get rid of negative feelings and reduce stress levels.
- Expect Good Things to Happen – Count your blessings and express thanks. Add humor, laughter, and fun into your day. Our attitudes really can affect our health and how we feel. Learn how positive thinking can improve your overall health.
In Summary, the mental health of older adults can be improved by promoting active and healthy aging. Eating well and exercising is beneficial to physical health, whereas keeping a positive outlook on life, and strong relationships with family members and close friends can be valuable to positive mental health. If there are ever times when you’re not feeling healthy, whether it’s physical or mental, or even both, contact your doctor or a loved one for help.
Betsy is the MiCAFE Network Shareholder and Partner Manager at Elder Law of Michigan. She has been a member of the Elder Law of Michigan team since September 2019. As the MiCAFE Network Partner Manager at Elder Law of Michigan, Betsy provides outreach, training, recruitment, and education to MiCAFE Network Partners and stakeholders.