Maintaining Mental Wellbeing With Age
As we age, it’s important to maintain our physical and mental wellbeing to promote longevity through the years. Watching what you eat and getting daily exercise are great places to start, but when was the last time you checked in on how you’re feeling? One in five older people living in the community and approximately half of nursing facility residents experience major symptoms of depression.
Whether you’re a caregiver or experiencing these changes yourself, coping with retirement and growing older in general can be mentally taxing. The good news is that there is a lot you can do today to help protect you or your loved one’s mental wellbeing over the years. These tips can help you or someone you love adapt to lifestyle changes and enjoy the benefits of getting older.
Prepare For Changes Early
Getting older involves a lifestyle change for most people, especially when preparing for retirement. There is no longer a compulsory retirement age at 65, and people are choosing to work much later in life. Talk with your loved ones about your feelings towards retirement, and discuss your plans for after you retire. How will you fill your time – childcare, volunteering, a passion project? Discuss your options and have a plan.
If work is central to you or your loved one’s life, consider how the changes will affect:
- The social aspect of your life if your job also provided friendships
- Your mental wellbeing if you’re used to being constantly busy and engaged
- Your sense of self-worth and self-esteem if you felt valued at work
- Your financial security
Talk About Problems or Concerns & Ask For Help
It’s easier to manage problems associated with aging when you share your concerns with the people you trust. Open dialogue is often a good way to rationalize your thoughts and feelings to help makes sense of a situation. There are stressful components associated both with personally aging and when you’re put in the role of a caregiver. Regardless of the role you find yourself in, it’s important to identify the people you can rely on when you need to discuss something that’s on your mind. These people can be:
- Friends and family
- Someone with specialist knowledge – perhaps someone with financial planning experience if you are struggling to meet the bills
- An impartial person – for instance, to discuss concerns about care for your partner
- A person who promises confidentiality, such as a counselor
Stay Active Doing Things You Enjoy
Staying active and eating well are proven ways to maintain overall wellbeing. Keeping your mind active is important, too. Some ways to do this include:
- Tackling puzzles, like crosswords, Sudoku or word searches
- Playing games, like chess, bridge or bingo
- Reading a book, magazine or newspaper
- Taking an online course or learning a new skill
- Using your memory instead of writing a list
- Using mental arithmetic instead of a calculator
- Playing or learning a musical instrument
Also, always remember to get a good night’s sleep to allow your body and mind the time to rest, repair and re-energize. Doing things that you enjoy will make you feel good, plus it keeps your mind and body active. These interests, hobbies and pastimes can provide a chance to socialize, or to find some much needed solitude. Either way, don’t be afraid to try something new!