10 ways to Boost the Mental and Overall Health of Seniors


seniors-lifting-weightsBrain that finds a way to stay busy is always a happy one. Hence, it will bring some sense of depression when the kids are not causing you sleepless nights, and you have nothing to ponder about that might keep your brain that busy.

Do not, for one second, think you are sailing in that boat alone. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 6.5 million seniors in America suffer from depression. The U. S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that an estimated 1% to 5% of the 6.5 million are a lower risk cases, and these are mostly non-dependent seniors. On the flip side, 13.5% of in-home dependent and 11.5% of the hospitalized seniors experience cases of depression.

The numbers should raise an alarm yet, depression, in most cases is overlooked, and this is according to Jazz Marina. Jazz, and MD and geriatrician with Kaiser Permanente in Georgia associated this to many viewing the origins of depression to be from something else. Dr. Marina gives an example of poor appetite and weight loss that look similar to gastrointestinal problem or daily function problems that look similar to cases of arthritis.

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Mustafa M. Husain, an MD and professor of psychiatry and behavioral science, says physical health struggles may lead to mental health problems in seniors. Dr. Husain, who is also the director of the Geriatric Psychiatry Division at Duke University Medical Center, Durham North Carolina adds that physical illness can also play a contributory role in cases of depression and that the opposite of the same is also possible.
So what should be done?

The answer to boosting the mental health of seniors lies in leading a healthy active life where social connections are also evident as they age. Here are good examples touching on this subject.

1. Just keep moving.
Exercising is good for both the mind and the body. Dr. Marian suggests daily walks or taking part in daily senior workout and fitness sessions in a good gym or seniorsí health center. Fun exercises such as dance classes are also a good option. Those with physical limitations can do chair exercises. A one-hour dance class a week led to significant improvements in depression symptoms in seniors; this is according to a 2014 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association.

2. Socialize at your senior center.
Senior centers are a good place for the seniors to keep their minds engaged as they socialize and take part in various activities such as board games. Some of the centers even offer transport for the seniors who need such services.

3. Stay involved in family gatherings
It is important to stay involved in the family issues as one ages, especially if there are grandchildren. Frequent visits will do a lot of good; they can be short if the senior feels tired. Dr. Husain says the company of family will have a positive impact on their health.

4. Call on friends
Stay connected with your peers. Get your hair done together, go on a shopping trip even if it’s just to the grocery store, or have them over for dinner. The social stimulation will do you all good, Marina says.

5. Turn to technology to stay in touch.
Technology offers more avenues through which people can stay in touch. A phone call is a simple, quick, and effective way of catching up with family and friends. Sharing photos, cards, and emails is also a good option. Creating a memory book is also a fun active that the senior can do with the grandchildren. Skyping and FaceTime are a good way of having one-on-one talk time.

6. Go back to school
One can never be too old to get some reading; it is a healthy way of challenging the brain. Seniors can enroll in the local community colleges that can either be free or offering learning at a low cost. It can be language classes or on an interesting field of studies.

7. Getting a pet.
A pet is always a good and lovable companion. It is also a good way of keeping someone busy since one needs to take care of the pet. According to an online publish on animal therapy posted by Current Gerontology Geriatrics Research in November of 2014, animals make seniors more social, less agitated, and less depressed.

8. Play games.
Board games such as cheese, scrabble, puzzles, word games, Sudoku and other games that stimulate the mind to think are a good pass time active for seniors. It is good for seniors to start or be part of a bridge club where they can also socialize as they play.

9. Growing spiritually
It is healthy to have a religious connection; a thing that is common in any social setting. People will convene in a place of worship, which is a great way for not only growing spiritually, but also building social bonds and support structures.

10. Make a difference
Taking up some volunteer work is a good way of giving back to the community. A senior that volunteer is many ways. For instance, the UN has volunteer’s programs posted online for people to register across the world. These activities are a blessing for both the giver and receiver. Dr. Husain gives an example of a 98 year old man who volunteers at a popcorn stand in a childrenís hospital stating no medication he would have given him would equate to the pleasure he gets from volunteering at the stand.