Staying active and challenging your brain are a few important ways to boost mental health later in life. But for some seniors adjusting to a new season of life can be difficult, especially if they are also managing mental health issues. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than seven million Americans age 65 and older suffer from some form of depression.
Addressing depression and other behavioral health issues in seniors is important because many are also managing chronic conditions. If left untreated, seniors battling depression have an increased risk of neglecting medication regimens, failing to keep doctor’s appointments and reducing physical activity.
The key to easing the aging process for seniors is continued engagement, both physically and mentally. These eight activities to boost the mental health of the seniors are easy to do at home or in a residential facility:
- Play music: Listening to music has been proven to be a successful tool in managing anxiety and depression and increasing cognitive function in seniors with Alzheimer’s disease.
- Paint pictures: Painting improves hand-eye coordination and creates a sense of accomplishment for the artist.
- Snuggle animals: If possible, coordinate a service dog visit to ease stress and invoke memories of past pets. Studies show that pet therapy has been associated with decreased behavioral issues and reduced loneliness.
- Journal: Encourage seniors to exercise their memory by writing their life story. If physically writing is difficult, partner them with a volunteer or fellow resident who can be their scribe.
- Solve puzzles: Actively using different areas of the brain is important in retaining cognitive function as seniors age. Try crossword puzzles, math puzzles like Sudoku, riddles or traditional board games like chess and Battleship.
- Learn something: Finding a new hobby can challenge the mind in exciting ways. Try introducing a science experiment or attending a seminar (or watching one on YouTube) about a new subject or topic.
- Get moving: Exercise promotes physical and mental health. Whether you have access to a pool for water aerobics or just coordinate chair exercises, getting an individual’s blood pumping can improve mood and increase mental alertness.
- Cook meals: Familiar smells, sights and tastes can invoke feelings of comfort. As an added benefit, choose recipes that contain mental health boosting foods, such as blueberries, dark chocolate and avocados.
If you or anyone you know is exhibiting signs of depression, anxiety or behavioral side effects of early-stage Alzheimer’s or dementia, Oceans can help.
Oceans is passionate about helping older adults and seniors experiencing depression, anxiety, behavioral side effects of early-stage Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, and other mental health issues. Utilizing proven, innovative and progressive therapies, Oceans’ qualified professionals strive to promote long-term wellness through a range of inpatient and outpatient psychiatric counseling and treatment options.