Mental health is always an important part of overall being, and at all ages. In the world we live in today, it is more important than ever, given the pandemic, changing family structures and other factors. This period has especially been difficult on the elderly as the world around them changed in a flash – and in addition to being limited indoors they are now grasping with technology that is evolving everyday and figuring out how to stay in touch with their loved ones. Staying home, limiting outdoor activities and socialisation is bound to have an impact on the mental health of the elderly. It has been especially difficult for the seniors who are staying by themselves as they have very little interaction with others and also face challenges while doing everyday tasks like grocery shopping, bank visits and more. Given the current circumstances, mental health for the elderly now also includes taking their mental well-being into account, in these times of social distancing and isolation. As it is natural to feel lonely, depressed and anxious in these times, one should be aware of the mental health problems and their symptoms in order to seek help at the right time.
There are some ways to make things better for your elderly loved ones during these uncertain times. If your elders are facing mobility issues and cannot do the things they used to, signing up for personal care services can be a good idea as these care packages take care of their daily needs and caregivers assist with daily tasks like refilling medication, extending help for bank and other office visits, scheduling and attending doctor visits, helping with grocery orders and more. Even the elders who are well equipped to do their tasks by themselves, can feel lonely and depressed, when staying away from their families. In these circumstances, you can consider intellectual companionship packages that seek to motivate the seniors by spending quality time with them and also helping them out in their day to day life. You can also choose to walk them through a social media or recent technology guide, so they can use virtual mediums to stay in touch with others. Online group therapies are also a great idea as they can socialise without exposing them to the virus. These sessions can be a lot of fun and can help tackle loneliness and depression. If your seniors have led a very active life, it may be difficult for them to suddenly be so free – take this opportunity to introduce them to a hobby – one they can pursue from the comfort of their home. Online exercise classes like yoga and meditation can also be great for their mental health without risking their physical health.
However, home care for the elderly may not always work fully when their mental health is at risk. If you notice any signs of distress, forgetfulness, lack of coordination or lack of interest, it may be time to get in touch with experts. The elders may also exhibit these signs through physical manifestations such as weakness, loss in cognitive skills or lack of hand eye coordination. All of these could be signs of deteriorating mental health and should not be ignored. A psychological assessment may be helpful in such cases, it will help to understand the person’s mental health and cognitive skills. There are many types of psychological assessment which can be used in different circumstances to understand what the elderly is going through. Many degenerative diseases set in years before they become fully recognisable, and in these circumstances mental health assessments can help. Tests like memory screening can accurately capture if the elderly’s memory loss is due to age or the early onset of dementia – this can help in timely intervention and proper treatment. With physical exercises, games and puzzles, cognitive challenges in seniors can be significantly overcome and can give the elders a renewed sense of confidence and self-esteem. Apart from the burden of being stuck at home and unable to socialise, the physical challenges of the elderly can also bog them down – thus physical exercises and cognitive function exercises can greatly improve their physical and thus in turn mental health. If you think your senior is lacking motivation or interest or has become aloof and appears depressed, you can opt for a neuropsychologist review, which can help understand the root cause of the illness. You can also consult for a mental health assessment online so as to reduce the risk of exposing the seniors to the virus. Through all these tests for psychological assessment of mental health, the experts can arrive at conclusive results regarding the elderly’s mental health. Once the actual mental state of the elderly is known, a psychologist can suggest adequate steps and treatment. These often include exercises for improving cognitive health like group therapy, puzzles for elders, online counselling and more, all of which can help impact their lives positively. With proper awareness, one can suggest the right methods of treatment to combat the same and thus help the elderly lead a healthier and happier life.