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Mental health in seniors: How to improve cognition and emotional well-being as we get older?

Mental health in seniors: How to improve cognition and emotional well-being as we get older?

In today’s time with mounting stress in our daily lives, many of you might be concerned regarding your mental health. As far as physical well-being goes, one can take measures through medications and physical exercises but what about mental health? As we get older sometimes there may be a decline in judgment and ability to reason and there is confusion. We all may have once seen this in the elder members of our families.

According to a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) study of mental health in older adults aged 55+, it is estimated that 20% of senior citizens experience some type of mental health concern. The most common conditions include anxiety, severe cognitive impairment, and mood disorders, such as depression or bipolar depression.

Once aging sets in, many of our cognitive abilities slowly start declining. These include impairments to short-term working memory, processing speed, retrieval of memories/information, fluctuating attention span, and problem-solving abilities. A subtle and gradual decline of cognitive senses is a normal sign during aging, however, a sharp fall might be a sign of dementia which is not a part of healthy aging. Specific measures to keep oneself socially, mentally, and physically active in addition to adopting the right dietary changes can slow down cognitive decline in elderly individuals.

Measures we can take to improve the mental health: Cognition and emotions in seniors-

  1. Mind stimulation activity: Our body needs physical activity so that it doesn’t weaken, similarly, our mind too needs mental activity to maintain its health and not go through a sharp cognitive decline. It is said that brain activity stimulating games can help sharpen certain skills such as processing speed, planning skills, reaction time, decision making, and short-term memory.

Some of the activities that can keep your mind involved in an activity are:

  • Reading and Writing
  • Learning a new language
  • Puzzles and games such as Chess, Sudoku, Crossword
  • Playing an Instrument – Music is always a soothing factor for mental health.
  1. Physical Activity: Sometimes physical activity doesn’t only benefit the body but also helps the mind to stay active, build up confidence and provide the energy to withstand any mental blow!

In addition to the physical benefits, a light workout can also help manage stress, anxiety, and depression in seniors, which can be just as detrimental to seniors’ health as physical ailments and injuries. Exercising in order to maintain positive senior mental health is important.

  1. Social involvement: Time and aging tend to create a distance between elders with their social life and friends. It is very crucial to have someone to talk to, someone to share some thoughts with as you grow older since these are the things that if left unattended may lead to loneliness and depression.

Learning how to connect with new and old friends on social media, through various video-based calling apps are just some ways to stay in touch.

  1. Caring for a Pet: As one grows older they need something to put their mind into, anything can be adopted as a new hobby or a time-consuming activity that provides them happiness and a sense of belonging. For an elder caring for a pet can be as helpful as an adult with a job guarantee.

If you don’t want or are unable to adopt a pet then volunteering for an animal shelter may also be quite interactive and helpful.

Including these measures in your daily life, from early on can be beneficial while combating cognitive decline. Special conditions should be made by caregivers, nurses, therapists, and society to adopt such measures. Samvedna Senior Care provides such care packages for the well-being of the elderly. They have an experienced staff that understands the requirements of the seniors and takes appropriate measures for their well-being.

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Samvedna Senior Care, G-7 Oriental Villas, Sushant Lok III, Sector 57, Gurgaon

Samvedna Senior Care, C-13 Anand Niketan, New Delhi