Did you know that nearly 15% of older adults (over 60 years old) suffer from a diagnosed mental disorder like Dementia or depression? Over 20% suffer from a neurological condition. With the aging population expected to grow from 12% to 22%, the need for increased support for seniors’ mental health is rising.
Thankfully, there are ways you can enhance the mental wellness of seniors. We’ll share them in the article and explain the vital role of in-home caregivers in supporting this aging population and their mental wellness.
What is mental health?
Mental health refers to our emotional, psychological and social well-being. Those in good mental health are often better able to handle stress, interpersonal relationships, and decision-making. Poor mental health can stem from a variety of factors, including past experiences or history of abuse, biological factors due to brain chemical imbalances, use of alcohol or drugs, or resulting from feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Being in good mental health is just as important as your physical health. Good mental health can decrease your risk for physical health problems, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
Why seniors need mental health support
Seniors are just as susceptible to mental health struggles as any other age group. Seniors with poor mental health often suffer from:
- Lack of attentiveness, focus, or interest
- Lack of energy
- Mood swings or excessive anger
- Physical decline
- Weakened immune system
Often, society interprets these symptoms as a natural part of aging. More often, they are signs that their mental health is suffering. These are symptoms that should never be ignored.
Seniors experience many huge life shifts in their golden years. Moving into care homes, watching loved ones pass away, and losing physical and mental ability can be devastating and affect them more than they or their loved ones might realize. These changes often lead to increased reports of isolation and loneliness (even if they’re living at home).
How you can support seniors’ mental health
There are many ways you can support the mental health of your elderly loved ones. Aside from time, they don’t require much commitment on your part.
- Visit them often: Regular visits from family and friends help seniors feel less isolated and alone, increasing the chances of declining mental health. If your senior is at higher risk of mental health issues, create a schedule to visit them at the same time every day or every week. It becomes an expected and much-anticipated visit that doesn’t catch them off guard. For those with memory difficulties, put your visit on a calendar for them.
- Engage them in physical activities: Help your elderly family and friends engage in physical activities. Being physically active supports a healthy body and mind. It could be as simple as walking together, participating in a sport appropriate for their abilities, or doing fun stretches and low-impact activities together.
- Provide mental stimulation exercises: Regular stimulation will help their minds stay young! Try doing puzzles, word games, or other fun challenges that make them think and use their brain.
- Help them socialize: Being social is essential to mental health and wellness. Look for other groups or clubs they could join with other like-minded seniors. They may enjoy crafting or crocheting, playing a sport, or doing a cooking class with a group of people their age.
- Support them to stay at home: Staying in familiar, comfortable environments helps reduce stress and senior’s mental load. This means helping them stay in their home as long as they can. If they want to stay home but can’t do it alone, you can hire an in-home nurse or caregiver to support them where needed. These caregivers can provide medical nursing care, companionship care, or help them maintain their homes.
How continuity of care can enhance the mental health of seniors
Seniors are going through many changes, which can affect their mental health. Continuity in care and support can provide a touch of predictability so they’re not caught off guard. We’ve found that seniors with a “revolving door” of ever-changing caregivers often get confused and worry about who will show up each day.
This continuity of care also helps them build meaningful social relationships. For example, having the same care provider visiting them means they can continue conversations or remember small things about the senior, making the experience much more personable. When their regular caregiver can remember facts about their life, passions, and preferences, it’s a more comfortable, less stressful experience.
Hero Home Care support for seniors
At Hero Home Care, we aim to improve quality of life by helping seniors stay in their homes longer. We provide continuity of care centred around every step of their life, whether they need someone to administer medication, have a social conversation with, reach items on high shelves, cut the lawn, or provide support in any aspect of their daily lives.
Through our Virtual Care Platform, we help seniors stay connected to family and friends through video chats on a tablet, so they can socialize and decrease loneliness and feelings of isolation.
We provide personalized home care solutions and services to support the physical and mental wellness of your elderly family members. Book a free care consult today to learn how we can support the mental wellness of your family members so they can remain safe in their homes.