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Healthy Aging: Strategies to Maintain Mental Well-being in Later Life

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It’s sad to see friends in their golden years sink into depression or lose their sharpness of mind. However, if you’re in that spot and getting up there in age, it’s important to know that not everyone ages the same, and you can retain clarity and happiness well into your later years. It’s never too late to change your lifestyle or mind frame and live the best times of your life. The advice below can set you on the right track.

Find Support and Take Care for Yourself

As you get older, you may feel you’re not as happy, energetic, or excited about the future as you once were. Know that you’re not alone; you don’t have to feel that way forever. The last few years have been hard on many of us with the COVID-19 pandemic, shutdowns, and a non-stop late-night news cycle. These events have affected everyone in some way, with the pandemic leaving 50% of older adults with an increased need for mental health support.

Even without the pandemic, old age and declining mental health often go hand in hand. Studies in recent years have shown that over 20% of adults aged 60 and over have a mental health disorder. Plus, many are living with physical disabilities that only make them feel worse.

As you get older, it’s more natural to experience a chronic condition than before. Ailments like hypertension, high cholesterol, and heart disease can become constant. Sometimes, physical problems can have a mental health component. However, more often than not, it’s the illness that makes you sad and less enthused about what lies ahead.

That’s why, if you’re experiencing depression regularly or can’t seem to get out of your funk, you need to promote mental wellness in your life so you can feel better about each new day. If talking to friends and family isn’t bearing fruit, seek a professional therapist to talk you through your problems and provide a solution. If you’re isolated and there are fewer people around than there used to be, consider adopting a pet to keep you busy and lift your spirits.

Fill Your Time with Activities

To feel better every day during your golden years, you need to include some self-care in your life with little tweaks to your routine. Get up every day and explore. Take a walk around the neighborhood, and when you’ve done that a few times, venture out to the park or a local flea market and try to meet new people and have new experiences. You never know who you’ll meet or what you’ll get yourself into, and by growing your network, you’ll always have someone to confide in.

You can also try some of the hobbies you didn’t have time for when you were younger. Many hobbies can keep you busy and stimulate your mental health, including playing chess, building puzzles, listening to music, and reading. However, depending on your living situation, you may not have as much time as you’d like for these things. You could still be paying a mortgage and maintaining a large house. If you would prefer to age in place, consider downsizing your home so you’ll have more time for hobbies, social life, and creative activities. 

You can get the juices flowing by creating something with your mind and hands. Go to the arts and crafts store and let your imagination run wild. Create something fun for yourself or the grandkids. Many people also like to try their hands at art. Painting, sculpting, and drawing are all activities that stimulate your mental health. They take your mind off of your problems and allow you to express yourself on the page. Once you finish your work of art, you’re filled with an incredible sense of pride.

It doesn’t have to be art, but you should try to fill your time with something you enjoy. When you do, you’ll be happier at the end of the day, knowing you’ve accomplished something great.

Your Physical Health Can Influence Your Mental Health

Mental and physical health are often mentioned in the same breath because they’re connected and influence each other. When you’re older, it’s essential to include physical activity in your daily routine, or you could experience medical issues. If your physical health is poor, your mental well-being also suffers.

You don’t need to go overboard with exercise, but you need to get the blood flowing, so start simple with a daily walk. Your strolls to the park and the neighborhoods around town are instrumental for your health because walking strengthens your muscles, keeps your bones strong and intact, and improves your balance. Best of all, the constant activity associated with walking strengthens your immune system. That means you’ll be sick less often, so you’ll be less likely to get depressed.

Exercise also improves your mental health because when you feel better and are happier with what you see in the mirror, you’re instantly in better spirits. Plus, exercise can be addictive, and you’ll want to keep up with it so you can continue to look your best. When you have a goal to work towards, you focus more on that and less on your anxieties. When you reach your goal, you’ll feel incredibly satisfied, and you’ll want to continue to chase that feeling until your old stressors become a thing of the past.

Your mental health will be an increasing part of the equation as you age, but you don’t need to let negative feelings control your life. Make little changes daily, and you can maintain your well-being far into your golden years.


About the Author: Katie Brenneman is a passionate writer specializing in lifestyle, mental health, education, and fitness-related content. When she isn’t writing, you can find her with her nose buried in a book or hiking with her dog, Charlie. To connect with Katie, you can follow her on Twitter, @KatieBWrites93.

Photo by SHVETS production: https://www.pexels.com/photo/happy-elderly-couple-holding-hands-while-walking-on-the-street-8972259/

The opinions and views expressed in any guest blog post do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in the article or linked to therein. Guest Authors may have affiliations to products mentioned or linked to in their author bios.

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