Promoting Positive Mental Health To Aging Family Members
Health includes physical, mental, and social well-being. In other words, health is more than just the absence of sickness or frailty. Because mental health is vital for well-being in older adults, it needs to be taken as seriously as physical health. Feeling anxious or depressed can make it difficult to keep up with everyday tasks, such as eating, cleaning, or staying in touch with family and friends. This will, in turn, lower the overall enjoyment of life. For successful aging and good quality of life, we need to keep our minds healthy, as well as our bodies. Here are some tips that can promote positive mental health for your aging family member:
Social Support and Companionship
One great way to enhance mental health is to stay in touch with those you love. Emotional support is associated with a lower risk of mental illness, such as depression and anxiety. Loneliness and feelings of isolation increases as we get older. Also, during the pandemic, many elderly choose to self-isolate to stay safe, so we need to be creative and take the extra time to show them we care.
Small things like a weekly phone call, an outside visit, or a virtual hug are great ways to stay connected right now. Meeting online weekly for a quick game of Scrabble could also help with loneliness. A daily text to your loved ones can sometimes be all it takes to brighten their day.
One of the most effective ways to better mental health is exercise. Regular exercise among older adults has been shown to relieve both depression and anxiety. It also heightens overall life quality.
With social distancing in place, taking an exercise class at the local senior center may not be an option. Luckily, exercise does not have to be complicated. Joining your relative for a regular morning walk may be enough to lower anxiety. It also brings the added benefit of fresh air and good company. Nowadays, there are yoga classes or online exercise groups for the elderly to join. This option will enable your relative to exercise from the safety of their own home. Show your family member how to use the Internet, and a new world of possibilities may open.
However, as we age, the lack of mobility or illness can make exercise difficult or even unsafe. One should always check with your relatives’ health care provider to see what type of activity is beneficial and which ones to avoid. If you live far away, then arranging for a caregiver who can help them be active in a safe way is also a good option.
To provide all the nutrients and vitamins for good mental health, we need to eat a balanced diet. Unfortunately, vitamin- and iron deficiencies are a common cause of low-grade depression in the elderly. Feelings of sadness, in turn, affect the appetite and can make it even harder to eat well.
Assisting your relative with meal prep or stocking up their freezer with home-cooked meals can help. A good-size freezer holds a couple of weeks’ worth of dinners. Remember to include treats. Cake in the freezer will put a smile on anyone’s face and can help with the appetite. Ordering a meal-service is another good way to ensure your relative gets his nutritional needs met. You can also enlist help from a registered dietician. They will work with your family member and create a meal plan that meets both budget and food preferences.
Meaningful and productive things to do gives a sense of purpose in life. Spending time on hobbies can fend off boredom and increase happiness. Challenge your loved one to learn a language with online courses or try out some new dinner recipes. A family zoom-dinner with meaningful conversations can engage your loved one mentally. Working with cross-words is a proven way to keep your cognitive abilities sharp. Successful aging requires staying both mentally and physically fit.
Daily routine and chores
With little control during this pandemic, a daily schedule can help bring some order to the chaos. Knowing what to do every day gives a sense of predictability and helps stave off anxiety. Help your family member to set up a routine that includes chores, exercises, and other meaningful activities.
But, declining mental abilities or loss of mobility can make daily life a challenge for the elderly. The day-to-day tasks might seem overwhelming and bring a lot of worry and stress. Offering help with chores like cleaning or getting their medications will be appreciated. Arranging for a caregiver who can help with meal prep and housekeeping can also be of great benefit for those who want to stay living at their own home.
We are here to help
For many seniors, using their own resources and the tips listed above may be enough for improving or maintaining mental health. But suppose there is an ongoing loss in functional abilities or a persistent mental health problem. In that case, it may be time to consider other types of care services and professional help.
Arranging for social care is a challenge, from knowing where to start to figure out how to pay for it. For support and guidance, you can always call us at Caregivers United. We can help assess the level of care your loved one needs, and help you understand your care options. Together, we will create a care plan fit for you and your family members’ individual needs. So, whether your loved one is in their own home, living with you, or residing in a facility, we are here for you.