7 Tips for handling mental illness in seniors

seniors, healthy, mind, body

As a person gets older, it becomes more important to take care of many things and keep track of them. Older adults often worry not only about their physical bodies, but their minds.

seniors, healthy, mind, bodyThey experience a lot of changes that affect their habits, moods and perceptions in their lives.

In the past few years, the topics associated with mental health have been discussed in different parts of the world. People, who are 65 years old and above, are suffering from various illnesses and are also dealing with emotional and mood disorders. Since seniors are more susceptible to mental health problems, they should be given proper health care.

Here are seven of the most essential tips for a successful management of mental illness in older adults:

1 Development and practice of healthy habits

One of the most crucial building blocks for a good mental health and overall well-being is to maintain a healthy habit in all aspects of life. As you age, a quality sleep every night is highly essential especially for older adults. However, taking care of a senior can be extra challenging when it comes to helping them obtain eight hours of sleep at night. There can be other factors that may affect their sleeping habits such as discomfort due to illness.

Regular exercising is another significant tip to develop a healthy habit. It does not only focus on improving the functions of the body systems, but it works wonder for the mind. Exercising helps release mood-boosting endorphins in the brain. Being active every day allows the brain to be prepared in releasing such endorphins.

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Most importantly, do not forget that a consistent healthy diet gives a lasting effect on the mental health of older adults. Pick the right types of foods and ingredients that will boost their mental health. Seek professional advice from medical experts. Depending on the type of mental illness of the seniors, they may not be allowed to eat foods that have high contents of refined carbohydrates and sugar.

2 Stay social

To continue to be social can get harder as a person ages. However, it is an important requirement in keeping the mind relaxed. If you are taking care of a senior relative who has a mental illness, ask them to go out and do some fun stuff. Make sure that you consult with their physician before taking this step. You should also guarantee that you know what to do in case of emergency.

On the other hand, seniors who live in assisted living communities can enjoy and participate in social events that are held on the campus. Some of these activities can be family events, walking at the parks, and meeting different people. As the person increases their social interaction, their mental health will get stronger and they will feel better.

3 Friendly phone calls

In some parts of the globe, such as the UK, many people of ages 75 years and beyond live alone. A lot of them say that they seldom speak to neighbours, family members or friends for a couple of weeks and sometimes, even for a few months.

Seniors are often vulnerable to social isolation and loneliness which certainly reflects on their health. Whether you are a relative or a caregiver, let older people get in touch with people close to them. You can fulfill their requests through phone calls. This way, they have the opportunity to reminisce moments and share stories that will make them happy.

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4 Gifts

Who would not want to receive a gift from someone so dear to you? Even older people would highly appreciate gifts from an old friend, a relative or someone special to them. Sending gifts is actually a simple yet effective gesture that makes your loved ones combat their anxiety and loneliness. This is also a way to help them forget about any illness in the meantime.

Gifts like craft activities or good books can be a form of distraction to the negative thoughts in their minds. Most importantly, it helps them remember that there are still people who are there for them. They feel that they are still loved and valued by you.

5 Play some interesting games

Puzzle games can be a fun way to spend time and interact with someone. These are also an ideal way to distract seniors from thinking about their mental health problems and feeling lonely every day. Furthermore, puzzles and games improve the cognitive function.

6 Stay active

Even when at home, always find something that will make the body busy. Take your loved one for a walk or perform chair exercises if brisk walking is impossible. You can also help them do simple stretching exercises to keep them active. Allow at least ten minutes of easy exercise routines every day to increase their energy, mental alertness as well as overall mood.

7 Introduction to Support Networks

Jane Byrne, Project Manager from a nursing home in Dublin notes that, “If you have a senior in the family who struggles in their self-isolation, he or she needs more communication than you can give. The best thing to do is to look for more reliable helplines or support networks.  You can search for help programs offered in your local community. There are also private and public institutions that provide any form of assistance to seniors who are suffering from health conditions including mental health-related cases.”

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These helplines can be an institution or a private group that dedicates to helping seniors to live a normal life despite their physical and mental conditions. All you have to do is to ask around, talk to and meet the right people for this concern.

Final thoughts

As people grow older, they need some help in dealing with various pieces of stuff in their daily life encounters. For this reason, they need help from someone who knows how to take care of them. Hopefully, you get ideas from the tips mentioned above on how to handle mental illness in older adults.


Holly Shaw

About Holly Shaw

Holly Shaw has been working in the care industry for 5+ years. She regularly blogs about both the personal and practical challenges of caring and is always actively working on producing informative content. Holly is currently writing for FirstCare