According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, more than 6.5 million American seniors suffer from some form of depression. It’s a serious situation given that isolation and inactivity, two common byproducts of depression, represent serious health threats among seniors. Depression is a treatable condition. Unfortunately, its symptoms can easily be mistaken for other conditions, so depression often goes unrecognized and untreated, thereby worsening pre-existing physical problems. Perhaps the best answer to the problem is to remain active, for seniors to stay involved and engaged in both mind and body.
Finding ways to keep moving is essential for people as they age. Maintaining muscle strength and joint flexibility is key because it determines whether an older adult is able to remain physically active. Staying active doesn’t have to be a risky, high-impact proposition. Seniors can get the exercise they need simply by going for a walk every day or taking part in a senior exercise class at a nearby community center or senior living facility. A dance or yoga class can also help you maintain muscle and joint agility (yoga can be adapted so seniors with restricted mobility can do it in a chair).
If you find that chronic pain is interfering with your ability to stay active, you can try taking cannabidiol (CBD) oil, which comes from cannabis. Studies have shown that CBD interacts with nerve receptors to reduce pain and inflammation caused by conditions like arthritis and multiple sclerosis. It is a more natural pain management method than medication. Ensure that you’ve done your research first on which CBD oil is right for you before going this route.
Friends and Family
One of the best ways to remain engaged emotionally is to stay in regular contact with family, especially if you have grandchildren. If your family lives in another city, social media sites, FaceTime, or Skype can help you stay in touch. Staying involved with relatives makes you feel like you’re part of their lives, even if they’re hundreds of miles away. It may be even easier to stay in regular physical contact with friends if they’re in your age group and have similar experiences and interests. Make time every week to go shopping, enjoy a cup of coffee, or take in a movie together.
Medical science has established a strong connection between oral health and mental health. Individuals with poor oral health often lack self-confidence and tend to withdraw socially. Conversely, individuals who suffer from mental illness are apt to neglect their dental health, thus creating a negative and self-perpetuating cycle. Higher levels of cortisol, the hormone responsible for stress, increases the likelihood of periodontal disease, but regular visits to the dentist can inhibit this destructive cycle, improve one’s self-image, and boost your overall sense of well-being. Seeking dental care makes good sense if you’re part of a Medicare Advantage plan that includes dental care.
Take a Class
Learning is a powerful and effective way to improve your mental outlook and keep your mind active. Many senior citizens take advantage of the opportunities for education offered by technology or through a local community college, and some classes can be enrolled in at little or no cost. Consider resuming study of a favorite subject you enjoyed in college but didn’t have the chance to complete. Studying a foreign language is one of the best ways to exercise your cognitive skills and learn to think on multiple levels; it can even improve memory. Try out Duolingo, a free website offering interactive lessons in many languages, from Welsh to Arabic.
Using Technology For Safety
If you’re an older adult looking for ways to remain active, one of the best things you can do is to use technology to remain safe at home. There is home security and medical alert technology, including devices that contact emergency services if you fall or experience some other home emergency. These devices automatically notify a company that alerts emergency responders.
Home security technology offers many options for keeping your home safe both inside and outside. Motion detectors, video cameras, and window sensors alert you if there’s an intruder and can automatically notify local law enforcement.
There are many simple and affordable steps seniors can take to improve their mental well-being. Stay active socially, seek out simple and accessible self-improvement activities, and maintain a safe and secure home environment.
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