Mental health problems can affect anyone, and they're reasonably common in older adults. Around 20% of U.S. seniors have a mental health condition such as:
Depression is the most common mental health problem in adults aged 55 or older. It causes symptoms such as low mood, distress and social issues, and the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors (NACDD) says it can increase your risk of developing certain physical conditions. There's a common misconception that low mood is an inevitable part of getting older, but the truth is that most older adults with depression can be treated successfully.
Seniors have a higher risk of developing mental health problems than the rest of the population, but your risk level depends on your circumstances. Experiencing trauma or adversity early in life may increase the chance of mental health difficulties as you age.
Certain factors related to getting older can also make mental health issues more likely, including:
How much social and emotional support you receive can increase or decrease your risk of mental health problems. The CDC's The State of Mental Health and Aging in America report concluded that emotional and practical support can help prevent physical and mental illness. Informational support, such as advice on matters related to living well as an older adult, can also minimize your risk of developing mental health issues.
The symptoms of mental health problems vary by diagnosis, but most mental illnesses cause changes in your moods, thoughts and behaviors. Knowing the signs can help you identify mental health problems in yourself or someone you love and get the support you need to recover. The Mayo Clinic recommends looking out for the following symptoms:
Mental illness can also cause physical symptoms, such as pain or digestion problems. While it's normal to feel sad or anxious occasionally, mental illness causes ongoing symptoms and can lead to problems in your relationships.
Most people need treatment to recover from mental illness, but there are things you can do to reduce your risk of mental health problems and manage existing symptoms. The following tips can help seniors enjoy good mental and physical well-being.
Research shows that loneliness and isolation increase the risk of depression in older adults. Therefore, it can help to maintain social connections by spending time with friends and family, participating in collective worship and enjoying community activities at Bethesda Gardens Fort Worth. Many older adults find video calls and messaging apps helpful for staying connected with loved ones beyond Fort Worth.
Starting a new hobby or rediscovering a favorite pastime can help reduce the risk of depression in older adults. Research shows that leisure activities improve life satisfaction and can help you feel more purposeful, which may help if you're struggling with changes in your routine after retirement. From reading to crafting or even enjoying a game night with friends, any pleasant, engaging activity can enhance your physical and mental wellness.
Everyone gets stressed from time to time, and sometimes even positive changes can feel stressful. However, research shows that chronic stress or anxiety can cause brain changes and increase the risk of mood issues and other health problems.
While avoiding stress altogether is impossible, there are things you can do to help manage it. The team at Bethesda Gardens Fort Worth is always on hand to provide practical support and advice, and you may find it helpful to talk things through with a trusted loved one or faith leader.
Mindfulness, a practice involving meditation and awareness of your physical and mental experiences, can also help you cope with times of stress. You can try incorporating mindfulness into your routine by using an app like Headspace or joining a mindfulness class.
You don't have to struggle with mental health concerns alone, and your doctor and the health care team in your assisted living community can help you find the right strategies and treatment to ease your symptoms. Speak to your health care provider if you notice persistent changes in your thoughts or feelings or your symptoms cause problems in your relationships or daily activities.
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