seniors_beach_MamasHealth

According to the National Institute for Mental Health, those 65 years and above account for almost 1/5 of deaths by suicide. This number is alarming! More so, depression and anxiety are significant concerns among older adults.

Which sends home the sobering message: while there is much attention to physical health issues among those in their later years, there’s not enough focus on the emotional wellness of seniors!

If you’re someone navigating the later years (or you have a loved one who is), then consider the following tips in improving mental health in old age.

Discover the joys of grandparenting. Have you ever spent the entire day with your grandkids? You should! Grandparenting provides all the joys of taking care of children —- minus the financial worry and the pressure of providing discipline. Instead of the enemy, you can be the indulging relative. Not a bad role to have!

Take this opportunity as well to become closer to the people who have drifted away from you over the years. Time brings perspective, and older adults are more gracious about failures and mistakes. And let your children take care of you for a change — hey, they at least owe you dinner for bringing them to the world!

Take good care of your health. Depression in the later years is significantly linked to fading mobility and vigor. Once you’re technically a senior citizen, it takes you longer to climb the stairs (if you can still climb stairs, that is) or get from point A to point B. You’re susceptible to illnesses like arthritis, hypertension, and osteoporosis. There’s also the expected memory and hearing loss.

It’s easy to feel sad about not being able to control Mother Nature’s course. But know that things are not as hopeless as they seem, and there are many things that you can do in order to still live a quality life. Engage on a proper diet, exercise regularly and go for regular medical check-up. Better yet, maintain an active lifestyle. Ballroom dancing and gardening may have sounded ridiculous back in the day, but perhaps now you can actually see yourself wearing dancing shoes or puttering about. A game of chess at the park may seem cliché, but nothing beats strategizing an attack when you’re already pushing 70. Senile? Who’s senile?!?

Pat yourself in the back. More importantly, this is the period to congratulate yourself for all that you have accomplished. All those years of backbreaking work to send your kids to college has finally paid off — they are now decent individuals with a passion for living. All those decisions you’ve agonized on making in the past — their fruits are around for you to see. Make peace with how you lived your life — for sure no matter how many bad calls you made in the past, there were more than a few good ones!

Redefine your role in this world. You’re also at the point when so many changes are happening, that at times life looks so unfamiliar. Children are leaving home to start a family of their own, your almost half a century as a corporate slave has finally culminated in retirement, and you can’t relate with whatever it is the younger generation is buzzing about. If you’re not careful, it’s easy to feel isolated and alone.

But old age is also a time for you to discover and re-discover many things. You’re presumably wiser now, so why not share your knowledge with those you care about? Your teenage grandson may be finding adolescence so confusing, but you who have lived a little know that things always look different with perspective. So share stories of resilience. And now that you have more time on your hands, maybe you can take on a project, such as writing that thriller you’ve always wanted to publish. Travel. Find old (in ways more than one) friends and acquaintances. Invest in an advocacy for a good cause. Never, never, never let yourself believe that you’re useless — because no one is.