As we get older, there are a lot of things that we need to keep track of and take care of. We worry about our physical bodies, and we also worry about our minds. What can we do in order to keep our mind sharp as we get old? Why is it so important for us to take care of our minds as well as our bodies? Why does our mental health deteriorate as we age? We're going to take a look at those questions and give you some great tips on how to keep your mind healthy and sharp as you age.
Why is it Important to Focus on Mental Health as You Age?
So, we know that we need to take care of ourselves, but it becomes that much more important as we age. Why is this the case? What makes getting older affect the mind? Here are some of the main reasons.
Degenerative diseases that cause our minds to struggle. As we get older, we become susceptible to a number of different degenerative disorders, including ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease), Alzheimer's, dementia, and more. These make it difficult for our minds to work appropriately, and they can make use feel like we aren't able to function on a regular basis. We have to keep an eye out for these as we age, because they can make the aging process that much more difficult on all of us.
The increase of mental illness in older adults. As we get older, we are also more susceptible to mental illness. People are more likely to become depressed, to have problems with anxiety, to struggle with OCD, and to deal with other mental illness. Some of it was untreated from youth, but in some cases, it develops because of the life circumstances that are going on around us on a regular basis. Sometimes, our minds just get exhausted and we can't cope like we did when we were younger.
The increase of seclusion and loneliness as people age. As we grow older, our friends start to pass away, and our family members start to pass away. Sometimes we lose our spouse as well, and sometimes it becomes more difficult for us to move around and get places. No matter what the reason is, we often become more secluded and lonely as we get older. Because of that, we are more apt to deal with mental illness (which we talk about above) and we're more likely to become withdrawn as well. The good news is, there are ways that we can get around the loneliness and we can live a lot happier lives with other people in our community and our world.
Memory loss and concentration problems. Even if you aren't struggling with a degenerative disease, we're going to struggle with our memory. The neurons in our mind just don't fire off like they used to, and that's okay. We may struggle with remembering what we wanted at the grocery store, or when we last called someone, or when we took our medication last just because we are becoming more forgetful.
With all of these reasons, isn't it clear why we should be taking care of our minds more as we age? Even though none of these things are necessarily deadly, it can be frustrating to deal with these problems as we age and it makes it that much more important to take care of our minds in our old age.
Mental Health Tips for The Aging
So what can we do? How can we make sure that our minds continue to stay sharp and healthy as we get older? There are actually a lot of things that we can do - so take a look at this list and try out some of these things on your own. Do what you like and enjoy, and have fun with it so that you don't get frustrated with the process.
Make sure that you are eating right on a regular basis. Your diet plays a significant role in what our mind does. Make sure that you are getting the right vitamins, fruits, or vegetables in your diet. By having a balanced diet, you will be better able to take care of your mind, and you will be able to keep it healthy on a regular basis.
Continue to be social. This is harder as you get older, but it's something important that you have to remember to do. Get out and do stuff, even if it's just going to bingo night with a friend. If you live in an assisted living community, go out and enjoy the social events that are available on campus. Go to family events, go and take a walk at the park, or do a number of other things to have fun with other people. By increasing your social interaction, your mental health is going to stay strong and you're going to feel a lot better. It will also make it so you don't feel like you're trapped in your home all of the time too, which can help ease your mind.
Do things that engage your mind, like crossword puzzles, Sudoku, and a number of other things. What do you like to do to engage your mind? Do you read challenging books? Do puzzles on a mobile device? Play games on a regular basis? Whatever you do, if you keep your mind engaged and working, Some older adults will play chess with their friends in order to make it so that they're thinking and being social at the same time. Just make sure that you enjoy what you're doing, so that you actually stay in the habit. it's going to help prevent the deterioration of your memory and other mental health issues.
Be sure to stay physically active for as long as you can. I know that it can be hard as you get older, because it's exhausting to try and move on a regular basis. Even if you're just getting up and walking around the house, you're still being physically active in one way or another. Physical activity helps with your hormones, and helps you to keep your weight down, both of which can play a significant role in helping your mind to stay healthy and strong as you age. It can also help to keep your body stay strong. This can also help you to meet other people while you're out being active - so it has a dual purpose that you can enjoy while you're out and about!
Make sure that you understand what medications that you are on and that they don't affect your mind in a negative way. Medications are common for those of us who are aging. Because of that, it's important for us to keep an eye on the side effects that may occur. Some of them may end up hurting your mind or causing confusion without really meaning to, and if that ends up happening, talk to your doctor about it. They care about what's happening with your mental health as well as your physical health, so it's going to play a huge role in your overall health and wellness. Talk to your doctor about any medication concerns that you may have.
Reduce the amount of stress, depression, and anxiety that you are feeling on a regular basis. This is easier said than done, but in short, you should be enjoying aging. Do things that help you to reduce the amount of stress that you're feeling on a regular basis. You can get involved in yoga and meditation, you can get involved with a religious group that helps you to feel as if you belong, or it helps you explore your life in a healthy way. Learn how to take time out for yourself and take care of yourself, and you will find that you feel better. Not only is this good for your mental health, but it's also good for your physical health as well so it helps with everything that is going on with your body as you age.
As you grow older, you may need some help to deal with some of the stuff that you will be dealing with on a regular basis. In order to get through some of that, you may need help from a professional. Here on our website, we have a number of resources that you can use in order to find a therapist or another professional that can help you with all of your questions and concerns. Don't go through aging alone - get the help that you need in order to live well into your older years. Enjoy your late years with a sharp and healthy mind.
Geriatric Mental Health Foundation. (n.d.). Healthy Aging: Keeping Mentally Fit as You Age. Retrieved August 7, 2014, from http://www.gmhfonline.org/gmhf/consumer/factsheets/hlthage_mental.html
Healthy Aging Partnership. (2007). Mental Health Articles. Retrieved August 7, 2014, from http://www.4elders.org/tips/mental-health.htm
Mental Health Association of Maryland. (n.d.). Maintaining Mental Health. Retrieved August 7, 2014, from http://www.mhamd.org/aging/mentalhealth/maintaining.htm
Saisan, J., & Smith, M. (2014, February). Staying Healthy Over 50. Retrieved August 7, 2014, from http://www.helpguide.org/life/healthy_aging_seniors_aging_well.htm
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2010, August 12). Healthy Aging. Retrieved August 7, 2014, from http://womenshealth.gov/aging/mental-health/