Maintaining Emotional and Mental Vitality in Seniors
Author: Lifeline Canada
Date: 7 October 2020
Many people assume losing physical, mental and emotional capabilities are a normal part of the aging process. However, seniors can work to maintain those abilities and enjoy their retirement years. Because mental and emotional vitality is key to maintaining physical abilities, caregivers must give attention to these areas for their loved ones.
Seniors Staying Social
One of the biggest changes for seniors in retirement is the loss of daily contact with people. While working, it was easy to maintain relationships with co-workers. The person would see the same people every day through no special effort on their part. Now that the senior is retired, they must choose to get out and be around others. For those who are naturally introverts or with limited mobility, this may be a challenging task.
Caregivers can encourage social interaction through scheduled activities. They can plan trips to the ballpark or to local concerts, as well as more informal get-togethers with friends. Social interaction has proven to help reduce the instances and severity of depression in seniors, making it an important part of a retiree’s routine.
Keeping Mentally Alert in Seniors
People with dementia aren’t the only ones who suffer from loss of mental functioning. It happens to many people with aging. They become forgetful and can’t think as clearly as they once did. This doesn’t have to be the case, and many seniors are just as alert as ever.
The key to helping a senior stay mentally alert is challenging the mind. The brain needs activity to maintain optimal functionality. Encourage a senior to engage in mentally challenging activities they enjoy, such as crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, mazes or even craft work.
Learning a new skill is another way to keep the mind active. Whether it’s a hobby such as crocheting or woodworking, or a physical activity like ballroom dancing or yoga, the mind is engaged.
Caregivers can challenge the minds of seniors by asking questions. Have the person tell a story or ask them when someone’s birthday is. These questions help with long-term memory recall and enable them to practice focusing on specific information.
You may need to make extra effort for the person who struggles with memory. Write appointments down on the calendar and remind them more than once. Tell them the date of a doctor’s appointment and have them repeat it back to you. Ask them again at the end of the conversation to help them remember. Remind them the day before and even early in the day of the appointment. The more times they hear about the appointment, the more ingrained in their memory it will be.
Related: Free Brain Games for Seniors
Tips for Seniors to Maintain Physical Health
As people age, physical problems can present as emotional or mental issues. For instance, a lack of certain vitamins, especially vitamin B, can cause poor memory. Other nutrient losses and physical impairments can lead to depression, which often prevents interest in social activities. When a person is in physical pain, the mind isn’t as clear and they have little interest in socializing.
If you notice your loved one isn’t as mentally alert or interested in socializing as before, make sure the cause isn’t physical. Talk to the doctor about your concerns so they can rule out certain physical conditions.
Related: Yoga for Seniors (for physical and mental wellbeing)
How can Seniors Deal with Mental Health Disorders
Don’t assume depression, anxiety or social withdrawal are normal for seniors. Many older people enjoy vital, fulfilled social lives and are mentally alert and happy. If a loved one is exhibiting signs of depression or acting anxious, encourage them to seek help. The cause may be a medication, a lack of nutrients or another physical condition. By paying attention to the signs and seeking treatment, you can help your loved one regain their mental and social vitality and enjoy life once again.
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