5 Ways to Increase Positivity in Seniors
Seniors are more vulnerable to sadness or depression because of the major life changes they are going through, such as declining health, the death of loved ones, or loss of friends. Below are 5 ways to help seniors improve their mood.
1. Increase physical activity
Science has found evidence that links physical health with mental health. Dr. Chisholm, the first Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), famously said “without mental health there can be no true physical health.”
Growing older brings challenges, like the decline of physical strength and mobility, which can feel like a barrier to staying fit. However, there are workarounds that enable older adults to remain active.
For example, aerobic exercise is great for brain function, but doing it in water can reduce the impact on muscles and joints. For those with limited mobility, chair exercise routines are a great way to increase heart rate and strength the upper body. Even a gentle walk outside will do a world of good.
2. Eat a healthy diet
What we put inside our bodies has an effect on our mental well-being. Eating a well-rounded, healthy diet helps people feel better overall.
There are also some foods that can improve mood. For example, omega-3 fatty acids from fish, as well as zinc and B vitamins from fruits like bananas, can help improve depressive moods. Reducing foods like starchy carbs can also help too.
Some older adults may feel that now is the time to throw caution to the wind and enjoy things like mid-week drinks or smoke cigarettes without the fear of dying young. The fact is that these things are bad for health and can also contribute to lower moods if consumed too frequently.
3. Stay connected with family and friends
Loneliness and isolation probably have the biggest impact on low moods in older people.
Too much time spent alone can have this effect on anyone at any age because humans are inherently social creatures. It is more common for seniors to become lonely as their adult children move away or become busy with careers, or as their partners and friends pass away.
One way to counter these effects is to get out and socialize as much as possible. Joining new social groups or community activities is a great way to make new friends with similar interests at a similar point in life as you.
If mobility is a problem, then technology can save the day. Seniors might not have grown up as “digital natives,” but local classes or young friends may be available to help. Technology allows for messaging and face-to-face phone calls through smartphones plus apps for mindfulness, medication reminders, and safety fall alarms.
4. Keep your mind engaged
Small daily actions to keep the mind engaged and active are vital for prolonging brain function and memory, as well as for keeping depression at bay.
Reading, writing, and mental puzzles like crosswords and Sudoku are fun and don’t require too much energy to do if a physical ability is a barrier.
Having a sense of purpose and goals to achieve is also important to mental well-being. If your older adult has good mobility, activities like volunteering, tutoring, and travel are great ways to stimulate the mind and increase social interaction.
5. Practice a positive attitude
It’s difficult to simply “think happy thoughts,” especially if your older adult is experiencing pain or isolation. But the fact is we need to practice certain thought patterns in order for them to become routine.
Encourage your older adult to practice gratitude and surround themselves with people who lift their mood. Being optimistic, making exciting plans, turning around negative thought spirals, keeping a sense of humor, and reducing stress will all help them experience life more positively.
Many older adults struggle with depression caused by a number of lifestyle factors. Encouraging seniors to practice these 5 tips will tremendously help improve their mood and reduce chance of depression.