Just like with physical health, staying in good emotional health takes work. Emotional and psychological wellbeing in aged care requires positive lifestyle choices, good coping skills, and a strong support network.
You can take small steps every day to stay emotionally healthy and happy as you age.
Here Are Eight Tips for Seniors to Boost Their Emotional Health:
1. Spend Time With Others
Social interaction is one of the best ways to improve your emotional health at any age. Seniors are more likely to be socially isolated than other age groups because of retirement or mobility limitations, so it may take some extra effort to get enough interaction with loved ones. For the sake of your emotional well being, try to regularly reach out to friends, family, or neighbors.
Today’s technology makes it easier than ever to connect with people. If you can’t see your loved ones in-person, you can use your phone or computer to video chat. Social media can be a great way to keep in touch with the people in your life, too.
You might find some great social opportunities within your community which can help you meet new people. Check your community center, library, or senior center for clubs, meetups, or volunteer opportunities.
2. Maintain Your Cognitive Health
It’s common for seniors to have occasional lapses in memory. These “senior moments” aren’t necessarily a sign of a serious problem, but they may make you feel stressed or worried. Keeping your mind sharp can benefit your emotional health because it alleviates anxiety.
Cognitive puzzles are an excellent way to boost your brain health and therefore your emotional wellbeing. Crosswords, sudoku puzzles, and jigsaw puzzles are all popular options. You could even play games on your phone or computer to sharpen your mind.
3. Increase Your Independence
One of the biggest challenges associated with aging is loss of independence. Sometimes, physical health issues or mobility problems may get in the way of you independently meeting your needs. This can be harmful for your emotional health as many seniors struggle to ask for help or feel dependent on others.
While you should never feel ashamed of asking for help, there are also ways to increase your independence around the home. Here are some of the most popular home modifications for seniors that make it easier to complete your activities of daily living:
- Handrails on steps and stairs
- Slip-resistant flooring
- Shower modifications
- Rubber grips on faucets
- Bed rails
- Smart home devices
4. Exercise Regularly
Exercise and emotional health are closely linked for seniors. Regular physical activity may help with chronic pain or other health symptoms, and exercise promotes the release of chemicals in your brain that lift your mood. It can be an opportunity for social interaction, too, if you take an exercise class or join a walking group.
There are plenty of ways older adults can get physical activity safely and enjoyably. For example, water aerobics, yoga, dancing, and walking are all powerful ways to improve both your physical and your emotional health. However, seniors should always consult with their doctor before starting a new exercise routine.
5. Try New Hobbies
It’s easy for seniors to stick to the activities that are familiar. This may be comforting, but it also can be good for your emotional health to try out new hobbies. Something brand new can be exciting and mentally stimulating, and you may find your new favorite activity.
To strengthen your emotional health, you could set a goal to try out one new activity each month. The following are some of the most common activities for seniors that can improve your emotional health:
- Artistic or musical endeavors
- Card games, board games, or video games
- Spending time in nature
- Learning a new language
- Taking care of pets
- Exercise classes
6. Practice Relaxation Techniques
In stressful moments, having an effective relaxation strategy can be key for maintaining or improving your emotional health. Everyone is different, so you should try out a variety of relaxation exercises to find the ones that are the most helpful for your emotional wellbeing.
Breathing exercises can be particularly valuable because you can do them anywhere and at any time. Slow, deep breathing helps your nervous system calm down, which can reduce the physical effects of anxiety and ultimately soothe your mind. Mindfulness meditation is another great practice for seniors who want to boost their emotional health. The goal of mindfulness is to focus only on your thoughts and sensations in the present moment and avoid worrying about the past or thinking about the future. You can practice mindfulness by setting a timer for five minutes, focusing your attention on your breath, and gently redirecting your attention back to your breathing whenever your mind wanders. This can be very difficult at first, but over time, it will help you stay calm during stressful situations.
7. Keep a Routine
Some people love to stick to a routine, and others prefer to be more spontaneous. For many seniors, keeping a routine can increase motivation and activity, which strengthens emotional health. When you set a plan in advance for your day or week, it may feel easier to follow through with activities, social events, or chores. If most of your days lack structure, try establishing a routine to see if it affects your emotional wellbeing.
You could create a morning or evening routine to jump-start your day or wind down before going to bed. Some seniors like to schedule different activities on each day of the week so that they have variety and know what to expect.
8. Stay Alert for Mental Health Conditions
Sometimes, these lifestyle changes may not be enough for seniors to stay in good emotional health. Disorders like depression and anxiety should be treated by a mental health professional.
Everyone has occasional bad days or bad feelings, but mental health conditions cause long-term problems with your emotional health that affect your day-to-day functioning. If you avoid social situations because of anxious thoughts, find it difficult to get out of bed because your mood is so low, or feel unmotivated to complete daily hygiene tasks or chores, it’s probably time to speak with a therapist about your emotional health.
Even if you don’t have a clinical disorder, therapy can be a great way to make your emotional health even better. You can discuss techniques for managing stress or find lifestyle changes that improve your quality of life. Simply having a nonjudgmental, unbiased person to talk to can do wonders for your emotional wellbeing. Blue Moon Senior Counseling specializes in therapy for older adults. Our counselors understand the many factors involved in emotional health for seniors and are experienced with treating a wide range of concerns. To learn more about how you can improve your emotional wellbeing with counseling, contact us today.