by: Melanie Farley

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness and reduce stigma surrounding behavioral health issues. Older adults are an often-overlooked group when it comes to mental illness, even though they make up a significant portion of the population.

However, new studies have shown that mental health is especially important for our aging population because happiness can lead to greater longevity. So, what can we do to ensure the beloved seniors in our lives are happy and healthy? Read on for our tips!  

Maintain Social Connections

Just think about what happens during social time. We think, laugh, talk, learn, and play. Social connection is a key component to happiness for everyone, but as we age, there’s a tendency toward more isolation and loneliness. Social isolation has been shown to increase the risk of anxiety, depression, and physical issues like heart disease and stroke.

So, be sure to regularly check in with your senior loved ones. It can also be beneficial to encourage older adults to join social groups based on their interests. Local senior centers and adult day centers are also great options for socialization and safety.

Healthy Food and Regular Exercise Are Essential

Nutritious food and regular exercise improve both mental and physical health. Exercise doesn’t have to rigorous to be effective for mental health either. Even a short walk is enough to trigger the body to release feel-good hormones called endorphins that will improve mood and brain function.

Healthy food can mean the difference between vitality and lethargy. When we eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, carbs, and protein, we will have more energy to complete our daily tasks.

Finding Purpose As We Age

When we don’t have purpose, life begins to feel meaningless. Older adults can and should continue to find unique ways to contribute to society. Seniors can still read, learn, teach classes, and volunteer in the community. With technology, even physically impaired seniors can find a way to contribute.

Older adults need to feel that they are a part of something bigger than themselves. That sense of purpose provides long-term happiness and longevity.

A Final Word…

Mental health is essential for everybody. This Mental Health Awareness Month, reach out to a beloved senior in your life and show them that you care. Your kindness just might lead to a longer life!

Would your senior loved one benefit from expert adult day care in a warm, welcoming environment? The healthcare professionals at Northeast Adult Day Care can provide skilled care, monitoring, and social interaction for your loved one! Reach out to learn more, [email protected].