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Simple Ways To Safe-Guard The Mental Health Of Elderly Relatives

12 November 2013

Simple Ways To Safe-Guard The Mental Health Of Elderly Relatives

Ageing can have serious impacts on our mental health. Although some of these issues can stem from illnesses such as dementia, which affects 5 per cent of people over the age of 65 and 20 per cent of those over 80, many of them are due to our struggles adapting to the effects of ageing. Finding daily activity harder, the loss of independence, the death of partners and close friends, all these factors and others can have damaging effects on us.

It’s no wonder that about 1 in 5 older adults in the community suffer with depression, a statistic that rises to 2 in 5 who are in care homes.

Read on to find out more.

Ageing can have serious impacts on our mental health. Although some of these issues can stem from illnesses such as dementia, which affects 5 per cent of people over the age of 65 and 20 per cent of those over 80, many of them are due to our struggles adapting to the effects of ageing. Finding daily activity harder, the loss of independence, the death of partners and close friends, all these factors and others can have damaging effects on us. It’s no wonder that about 1 in 5 older adults in the community suffer with depression, a statistic that rises to 2 in 5 who are in care homes.

There are some simple ways to safe-guard the mental health of elderly relatives and help them maintain a happy life in their old age.

  1. Help Them Learn A New Skill.
    Humans have a remarkable ability to learn new skills right up until the end of our lives. As long as your relative has no cognitive impairment then you should encourage them to explore a new hobby or skill. Maybe they have always wanted to paint, or learn how to use a computer properly. There are lots of courses and classes available and with the extra time that retirement brings it is an ideal time to indulge interests. This will help as it gives a sense of purpose that can be lost when someone retires, and there is an inherent social aspect to learning new things which is good for mental wellbeing.
  2. Talk To Them.
    A major cause of depression in the elderly is a feeling of isolation as their social circles diminish and a lack of structure to their day due to not having work and family responsibilities. A good way to help them adapt is to talk to them. Visit them for a cup of tea and let them talk to you about their problems and concerns, or just general chat. This will help them as not only does it offer social contact, but it also lets them rationalise and order their thoughts.
  3. Encourage Them To Exercise.
    Exercise has incredible effects on our mental wellbeing. When we exercise our body releases all kinds of chemicals that lift our mood and it also makes us feel stronger and more flexible which improves our day to day life. In fact exercise is so good for us it is as, if not more, effective at treating mild depression as anti-depressants. Why not take them for a regular walk, if not every day then three or four times a week. If they prefer to be involved in a class there are many exercise classes aimed at older people, from aerobics and aquacise to yoga and pilates.These three simple tips will help protect your elderly relative’s mental health and adapt to some of the challenges that old age brings with it. Of course if you’re concerned about a loved one’s mental wellbeing ensure they speak to a health professional for expert advice.