An article about mental health resources for seniors was featured in the latest edition of Northwest Prime Time (June 2011). Puget Sound Health Partners offered helpful tips for the senior population. Seniors are notorious for avoiding anything that smacks of mental health. It isn’t surprising that their problems tend to ignored, avoided and often not treated. Mental health is important for overall good health at any age, and it needs to be dealt with appropriately.
Natalie Valios (Community Care: September 20, 2007) writes that mental and emotional wellbeing are important at every age. People often write off mental health issues in older people because they figure aging is something everyone has to deal with, like it or not. The author stresses that in reality older people are just as capable of enjoying life, taking on challenges, coping with difficulties, engaging in satisfying activities and supporting each other as younger people. Getting older does not mean that you can not make a real contribution to families and communities.
Low expectations are more the problem than the cure. Assessing mental health issues gives seniors a way to cope. The same person-centered approach and the right to expect a high standard is there for all. There is consistent evidence that having a role, good social networks, an adequate income and a supportive neighborhood is as important at 80 as at 30, probably more so.
Puget Sound Health Partners recommended a plan for newsletter readers that included:
- Remaining Active – regular exercise is more important than medications for activating your brain.
- Eat well – good nutrition will fuel your body and your mind.
- Seek Medical Help – see your doctor every year and address mental health issues. It is no shame to want to talk about stress, depression or any other feelings.
- Get enough sleep.
- Take control of illness by learning everything you can about your condition and learn how to live with it.
- Make time for relaxation – yes even retired people need quiet time to meditate and regroup. Smile and laugh more.
- Stay busy. Stimulate your mind as well as your body. Stay engaged with classes and volunteer activities.