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Lack of social interaction, mental stimulation, and physical exercise among senior citizens can leave them with feelings of depression, lack of direction, and lack of purpose.
Maintaining quality of life is important to older adults but without mental and physical activity, the brain and body suffer. Inevitably, a slow decline marked by severe depression may result. Depression brings a loss of interest in normally enjoyable activities, loss of energy, lack of appetite and altered sleeping patterns, all of which erode one’s health and sense of well-being.
Find Joy in Small Chores and Interaction
Everyone needs to feel useful and wanted. That’s especially true for seniors, who may experience a gradual diminishing of their role in family members’ lives, loss of friends, and reduced opportunities for social interaction. Even small things can help boost their sense of belonging and self-worth. Just folding laundry, organizing drawers, making out grocery lists, and helping prepare dinners can help a senior who’s at a loss for things to do feel better about their situation.
Exercise to Feel Good Inside and Out
Physical activity plays an important role in keeping seniors feeling vital and upbeat. Exercise releases endorphins, feel-good neurotransmitters in the brain that help a person feel better and encourage regular exercise. It also strengthens the important balance between body and mind. Exercise keeps blood flowing to the brain, sharpening concentration, memory and cognitive functioning. The release of endorphins alleviates tension, anxiety and depression and makes you feel better in general. Exercise also lowers blood pressure, boosts the cardiovascular system and strengthens the immune system, leaving seniors less vulnerable to illness.
Enjoy Games, Challenges that Promote Mental Health
Maintaining a sharp and agile mind is important for maintaining a healthy quality of life. It’s especially necessary for staving off the mental decline that comes with the aging process. Brain games such as crossword puzzles and Sudoku, a particularly popular activity among seniors, are great for stimulating the brain. Seniors also derive great benefit from reading and journaling, relaxing and enjoyable activities that keep the mind sharp.
Keep Old and Start New Connections
Feeling good about life and a person’s place in the world depends to a large degree on staying in touch with family and friends, the people who know and care about them. It’s common among many seniors to feel as though loved ones no longer consider them important, when in most cases family members are simply leading busy lives and may simply lack the time to reach out as often as they’d like. Don’t hesitate to take the initiative and call, text, email or initiate FaceTime exchanges. Family and friends appreciate contact and most often, sincerely want to know how a loved one is doing.
Attending events and enrolling in classes at a local senior center, joining a friend in a hobby or regular exercise including walking or swimming, and volunteering through a church, charitable or community organization, can all contribute to feelings of being connected.
Focus on Self-Care
Depression among older adults is often the result of self-neglect – a lack of sleep, eating poorly, not exercising, or isolating yourself from the world. It’s important to pay close attention to one’s physical and mental needs. It is recommended to get seven to nine hours of sleep every night, do at least 30 minutes of exercise each day and keep the mind active and alert.
If a person is a smoker, resolve to quit and minimize or eliminate alcohol intake (avoid alcohol in the evening because it can lead to impaired sleep). If they find it difficult to exercise alone, consider joining an exercise or aerobics class. Many older adults thrive as the result of learning yoga of tai chi and even make new friends by enrolling in classes at community or senior centers.
Stress takes a considerable toll on your body, no matter what age you are. It’s hard on organs and destroys the sense of wellness with persistent worrying and physical manifestations like sleep deprivation and heart palpitations. If stress is a chronic problem, it is recommended to try eliminating caffeine and sugar-laden foods and drinks from one’s diet. Tips also include practicing meditation in a quiet and relaxing environment (a secluded part of the home will suffice) and walking in a nearby park on a regular basis. A physician can also help with treatment options to get stress and anxiety under control.
Aging doesn’t have to be a time when a person will retreat from the world and give up on what gives them joy. It as a time of opportunity when people can try new things and use their knowledge and experience to help others. Remember, quality of life is a byproduct of activity, optimism and self-care.
About the author:
Jason Lewis, StrongWell.org
Jason Lewis is passionate about helping seniors stay healthy and injury-free. He created StrongWell to share his tips on senior fitness.