How Senior Communities Promote Mental Wellness
The World Health Organization estimates that by 2050, the world’s demographic of adults over the age of 60 will practically double, from 12% to 22%. However, this population change also comes with a crisis: out of these numbers, about 20% of older adults worldwide are living with a mental health disorder.
Thankfully, there are ways to combat these mental wellness risks as we get older. By staying informed and understanding what causes mental illness, BC Seniors Living Association wants to give you the resources you need to keep your mind happy and healthy. We’re breaking down negative stigmas surrounding mental health, incorporating positive habits into your routine, and sharing how senior communities can help with mental wellness.
This year, World Mental Health Day falls on October 10th. This day strives to raise awareness about mental health issues around the globe and promote the mobilization of support efforts to make mental health care a reality for everyone.
Risk of Mental Health Issues in Seniors
Everyone experiences stress in their daily lives, and if these stressors are not treated properly, they can be detrimental to mental wellness. It’s crucial to understand that older adults are at a higher risk for developing mental wellness issues.
For example, changes in health and mobility or dealing with loss or bereavement can result in mental illnesses such as isolation, depression, anxiety and more.
Fighting the Stigmas Behind Mental Health
Unfortunately, conditions like depression are underdiagnosed within primary care facilities. If you or a loved one are facing challenges within your mental wellness journey, reach out to a healthcare provider.
Reaching out during a mental crisis can be difficult, and the stigmas associated with mental health concerns prevent many older adults from seeking the help they need. While many great strides have occurred in the more recent understanding of mental health treatment, there is a strong shared belief amongst many older adults that speaking up about mental health concerns can be seen as a sign of weakness, as concluded by Birren and Renner in a 1979 study.
Later studies have indicated that mental health issues were seen in the 20th century by baby boomers and others as serious psychological problems and that bias still exists when it comes to their mental healthcare. In addition, scientists suggested that a lack of proper mental wellness education and unfamiliarity with psychological concepts have also contributed to these negative opinions.
Treatment and Staving Off Mental Illness
In addition to medication, therapy, and other clinical forms of treatment, there are so many simple, easy, and fun ways to improve your mental wellness – many of which you may already incorporate into your daily routine.
Here are some examples:
- Physical Exercise: When we exercise and work out our bodies, whether it’s a fitness class or a simple walk in the park, brain-derived neurotrophic factors (BDNF) are released, which stimulate the growth of new brain cells. These BDNFs enhance cell growth in the hippocampus, a part of the brain that is often smaller in people with mood disorders.
- Staying Connected: About 40% of people over the age of 60 have reported feelings of isolation and loneliness, according to studies. Loneliness is a common form of distress for older adults and has been medically linked to functional decline. In fact, it can put us at higher risk for memory loss and even immune diseases. On the other hand, when we socialize with others, our brains are continuously improving cognitive skills, mainly memory and focus, which re-vitalize our minds and boost our mental wellness and happiness.
- Discover a New Hobby: If you’ve always wanted to learn how to play an instrument or take up painting but never had the time, now is your chance. By learning new skills as a senior, you’re challenging your brain and boosting your cognitive abilities! Memory and concentration skills are being quickly utilized, as your brain is retaining, learning, and understanding new information. Not only does this boost your mental wellness, but it can also stave off dementia and other mental health disorders.
How Senior Communities Promotes Mental Wellness
Senior communities understand the mental health risks that impact older adults and take an active and engaging approach to care that focuses on promoting healthier lifestyles and mental wellness.
In addition, these environments ensure that individuals have the opportunity to participate in physical activities like yoga, for instance, which does wonders for mental wellness and mindfulness) or feature on-site fitness centers with all the equipment needed to keep your body – and mind – in shape.
BCSLA is dedicated to sharing resources and helpful information so everyone can discover a new approach to senior living.