Monday, January 6, 2014

Seniors and Mental Health: Taking Care of Yourself & Your Mental Wellness

mental health, Alzheimer's, dementia, depression, caregiver, in-home care
Talking with your loved ones and thinking positively can be keys to mental health. 

January marks National Mental Wellness Month, and Progress is honoring the month by offering tools and tips that can assist seniors in caring for their mental wellness. 

More than 6.5 million people over the age of 65 suffer from depression, according to the Geriatric Mental Health Foundation.

GMHF, a foundation dedicated to raising awareness about psychiatry and mental health disorders affecting the elderly, offers several resources on this matter, including an online toolkit.

For seniors, taking some steps to make healthy lifestyle choices can make a major difference in mental wellness.

Talking with those who have had similar experiences and feelings can be very helpful because they will understand how you feel.

Spend time with people you enjoy and avoid people who are not supportive.

Pace yourself—do not expect to do everything that you did before you had depression. Set a realistic schedule. Ask a friend or family member to take over some of the things that you need to do for a period of time.

Think positively and try to avoid blaming yourself or expecting failure. Identify areas of your life that are positive.

Identify problems in your life and list problems that you think may have triggered the depression. Work out a strategy to deal with the problems. Discuss them with family, friends, and your health care provider. Develop a step-by-step action plan—but plan realistic steps.

Identify pleasant activities and routines that you enjoyed before you became depressed. Think about those activities as well as those you would like to do. Once identified, start to return to that routine. Choose one activity each week from the pleasant activity and routine list.

Avoid making major life decisions. If you do need to make a major decision that will impact your life, ask a friend or family member for assistance.

Get exercise and spend time outdoors. Exercise and natural light can be effective natural treatments for depression.

Eat a healthy diet and limit your intake of sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and salt.

Be patient—it will take time to get better.

For more information about Geriactric Mental Health, please visit

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