Seniors have special needs, and their mental health is no exception. Taking special consideration for emotional health is not limited solely to elderly individuals with existing mental health conditions. Senior citizens are at particular risk for developing depression and anxiety, and these illnesses can have a profound impact on their overall health. In order to keep your senior loved one healthy and happy, it’s important to take special consideration of their emotional health. With special attention to these areas, your senior loved one can have the highest quality of life possible.
There is still a lot left to be fully understood about the aging mind and its impact on cognition. We know that the body changes in a variety of ways as we age, not just physically, but neurologically as well. As the years ago by, most elders will experience issues with cognitive function and speech.
The term “cognitive function” refers to the intellectual process through which one learns, grasps, and interprets ideas. All elements of thinking, reasoning, perceiving, and remembering fall under the umbrella of cognitive function.
In clinical studies, results have shown that aging and cognitive decline are correlated. It appears that our neural stem cells in the brain play a role in all cognitive functions, and as we age, these cells proliferate. This is why learning becomes more difficult and memory performance starts to decline.
It’s also common for mature adults to experience speech perception problems as they age. They might claim that someone is speaking too quickly or mumbling, or may have difficulty hearing someone over loud noises. This is likely due to changes in memory, attention span, and sensory plasticity. Essentially, their brains are processing things slower, which causes them to have greater difficulty understanding things over their younger counterparts.
To help your senior loved one with their cognitive health, prioritize taking the time to ensure they understand you. Keep in mind that they aren’t going to catch on as quickly as they once did, so speak slower and actively listen. This will avoid conflict and help them feel more connected to you.
Your relationship with yourself has a major impact on your mental health. Unfortunately, it is quite common for senior adults to experience lower self-worth, and in turn, higher rates of depression.
As the body ages, it becomes more difficult for your loved one to do what they used to do. They may not be able to participate in activities that gave them confidence, and their social circle is likely dwindling.
Research shows that elderly people with higher self-esteem are more likely to be healthy than their counterparts with low self-esteem. This means that a positive attitude towards aging can go a long way towards helping your elderly loved one adjust to this new life stage.
Be conscientious about promoting positive self-esteem in your senior loved one. Make sure they are participating in social activities and participating in hobbies that get them excited. In addition, foster a meaningful relationship with them and their other relatives. The less isolated they feel, the better they will feel about themselves.
In an ideal world, we would all get along with our family perfectly. In reality, conflict is inevitable, and it can be particularly difficult for seniors to feel connected to younger generations. Because of those differences, they may feel a lack of closeness in their families despite depending on them for care, and this can lead seniors to feel further isolated.
You can always address this by encouraging all generations in your family to maintain some type of a relationship with your elderly loved one. If you have children, bring them to spend time with their senior relative, and make a point to reach out regularly to check up on them. Family support is integral to a senior’s health.
Address Sources of Stress
Stress is a normal response to many situations, such as an intruder breaking into your home or a financial crisis. Yet long-term, chronic stress is incredibly hard on our bodies, and increases the risk of a variety of physical and mental health problems. For example, there is an established correlation between chronic stress and other health problems such as coronary artery disease and depression.
If your senior is feeling overwhelmed with stress, there are plenty of ways they can alleviate it. Again, social interaction is an incredibly important part of health, and can be a great stress reliever. In addition, take the time to find out what your senior loved one finds stress-relieving. It may not be what you think! Finally, if your elderly loved one is having difficulty managing stress, they may benefit from speaking with a therapist.
Values and Beliefs
Everyone holds values and beliefs that they develop over time. This helps shape the people who we become and how we perceive the world. As they come from a different generation, your elderly loved one may hold different values and beliefs than you do. It is important for their mental and emotional health to respect them, even if you don’t understand them.
Give them the opportunity to join a faith community if they are so inclined. When it comes to decision-making for their health, let them do so based on their values rather than your own. Having values and beliefs gives people a sense of purpose, which is integral to mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
At Evergreen Home Healthcare, our home health aides pay special attention to seniors’ emotional health to ensure they have the highest quality of life possible. If you’re looking for home healthcare in Fort Collins, we would love to help. Contact us today to get started.