PLYMOUTH — At any age, living a life of purpose, connection and joy is critical for physical and mental wellbeing. For older adults, a variety of obstacles like vision loss, social isolation, mobility problems and memory issues can make enjoying life more difficult.
Why is it important for seniors to focus on mental health?
• Socially isolated seniors have a 59 percent greater risk of mental and physical decline than those who do not experience social isolation, according to Forbes.
• The health effects of social isolation and loneliness on seniors is equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes per day, says AARP.org.
• Depression in the elderly is associated with increased risk of cardiac diseases and risk of death from illness according to WebMD.
Signs of depression in seniors can include change in attitude, self-isolation, weight loss, fatigue or lack of interest in once-enjoyable activities.
For older adults that want to improve quality of life through enhanced mental health, there are a few things they can do to kick off healthy habits:
• Exercise — Seniors should always consult with a physician before starting any physical activity or fitness program. Seniors that are able, and approved, to exercise may see increased physical and mental wellness. Exercise has been proven to have a positive effect on the brain.
• Connection — At any age, many people find joy in spending time with family and friends. Social isolation can be a problem for seniors that have mobility issues or aren’t able to drive, or who have loved ones that live far away. There are services that can help overcome these issues, including transportation help, in-home care assistance, and technology that fosters connection.
• Volunteering — Sharing time and talents doing volunteer work can bring a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Many organizations have programs and volunteer opportunities specifically geared to older adults.
• Spending time on joyful activities — Everyone has a different interest or hobby that brings joy, whether that’s music, art, dance, gardening or games. Seniors should spend time doing something that brings them happiness on a daily basis to improve quality of life.
Maintaining senior health and wellbeing is a priority for the team at Comfort Keepers. Caregivers can assist in providing seniors with transportation to and from the doctor’s office or clinics to receive their vaccinations. In addition, caregivers can also work to promote a healthy lifestyle by supporting physician-recommended diet and exercise plans, as well as medication reminders.