Mental health is a very important component to monitor in everyday life, especially for seniors who may be predisposed to loneliness and depression. As the years begin to creep up on you, changes in your mobility, appearance, and outlook on life may begin to affect your mental health. Actively taking steps to manage a happy mental state can positively affect your life. The way you view challenges or obstacles, your general mood, and the way you cope with stress can all be changed dramatically with just a few changes or additions to your life. In addition, your physical health can improve by engaging in positive mental health activities. There are many ways that seniors can maintain their mental health and have a positive lifestyle and here are some tips on how to improve senior health as they age.
1. Get Mental Stimulation
Having regular stimulation of your brain is key to maintaining good mental health. Studies have shown that doing “brainy” activities will stimulate new connections between nerve cells and possibly generate new cells. This will help to develop neural plasticity and build up function that will fight against cell loss in the future. For example, these are some activities that will provide some mental stimulation are:
- Taking courses to learn new skills (online or at a local library)
- Crossword puzzles
Mental Stimulation is one of the best tips to improve senior mental health. To learn more about mental stimulation, click here.
2. Get Physical Exercise
Research shows that getting physical exercise will help to build muscles in your mind as well as your body. Physical exercise will increase the blood supply to the brain and will improve the links between the brain cells. Having a physically active lifestyle will also improve memory, imagination, and a person’s ability to plan tasks. Plus, getting some physical exercise will also help to lower blood pressure, have better levels of cholesterol, maintain balanced blood sugar levels, and reduce stress on the brain. Also, these things will help you to have a better brain and a better heart, which is important as you age. Good physical exercises that will improve your mental health include walking, running, swimming, and cycling. Getting physical exercise is a great way improve senior mental health as they age. To learn more about how physical exercise will benefit your mental health, click here.
3. Improve Your Diet
Having a healthy, balanced diet will not only improve your mental health but also your physical health. With an unhealthy diet, you may be putting yourself at risk for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and obesity (all of which can make you twice as likely to develop dementia as you age). For example, healthy ways to help maintain a balanced diet include:
- Baking or grilling food, instead of frying
- Cooking with good fats (oils from nuts, seeds, and olives) instead of bad fats (cream, butter and meat)
- Eating more fruits and vegetables
- Eating fish instead of red meat
Improving your diet is another fantastic way to improve senior mental health.
4. Get Plenty of Sleep
Your brain is always on the move, even when you are sleeping. For example, it consolidates the learning that you did during that day. Psychologists have discovered that when we dream, we are processing all the information that we have taken in, so we can solve problems in our sleep. Also, when you do not get enough sleep, you will not retain as much of the learning you did that day and you will not learn as well the next day. It is recommended that adults get 7-9 hours of sleep each night to optimize their mental health. Getting the right amount of sleep is crucial to improve senior mental health. To learn more about the connection between sleep and mental health, click here.
5. Avoid Alcohol and Tobacco
Abuse of alcohol and tobacco can be extremely detrimental to your mental health. First, avoiding alcohol will be beneficial to your mental health in the long run. Drinking excessively can shrink the frontal lobes of your brain, and damage it forever. A “healthy” amount of alcohol is one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men. You must be careful with the amount of alcohol you consume. Also, avoiding tobacco will help to maintain mental health. One study, of people who smoke, found that the more you smoke, the more your risk of developing dementia increases. However, the study also said that people who used to smoke but stopped did not have any increased risk of developing dementia. It is recommended that you avoid alcohol and tobacco so your mental health can be maintained. Avoiding alcohol and tobacco are great ways to improve senior mental health.
6. Make Time to Meditate
Meditation is gaining some popularity among many psychologists, who say that mediation can be very beneficial to keeping your brain healthy. Research shows that meditating can help you to have better concentration, memory, process information faster and more efficiently, reduce stress levels, and even raise general intelligence. In addition, there are many different kinds of meditation, but they all involve some form of stillness, focus on breathing, and achieving a state of calmness. Evidence is piling up for the positive effects that mediation has on both your mental and physical health, and its very highly recommended. Meditation is so important to improve senior mental health.
Visit At Home Senior Services
Mental health is an important concern for seniors as they age and should be actively nurtured. Another concern a senior might face as they age is needing help with daily activities around the house. In-home care can be the solution to that problem. In-home care allows seniors to age in place. Agencies like At Home Senior Services can help. At Home Senior Services is an in-home care agency dedicated to helping seniors age in place throughout the Greater Pittsburgh Area. Visit www.athomeseniorservices.com or call 412-604-0410 to start the process of connecting with a caregiver.