Older Adult’s Mental Health
Older adults, like the wider population, may well experience mental health issues. In fact, an NHS survey showed that depression affects around 22% of men and 28% of women aged 65 years and over. It’s also estimated that 85% of older people with depression receive no help at all from the NHS.
We can all be guilty of putting our feelings to one side and thinking we’ll deal with it later. But we shouldn’t. Coming to terms with our thoughts and feelings and asking for support is often the best things we can do to help ourselves feel better.
Here are some ways to support yourself if you’re struggling:
You might be feeling lonely for a number of reasons. Perhaps you now live alone, have lost the social contact you used to get from work, or have health problems that make it difficult to go out.
Feeling lonely doesn’t necessarily mean we’re alone either. We can sometimes be surrounded by people and still feel lonely.
Loneliness can have a real impact on mental wellbeing. Your GP might be able to suggest things you can do to help. Bath Mind can also support you if you’re feeling lonely. Our Befriending service supports those who need regular contact with others by setting you up with a dedicated Befriender who will call you each week to chat.
Try Talking Therapies
If you’re struggling with how you’re feeling, it may be a good idea to try talking therapies.
Statistics from NHS England show that for people who received psychological therapies over the course of a year, 56% of over-65’s showed ‘reliable recovery’ compared with only 42% of working age adults.
Your GP can help with a referral to free talking therapies, which could include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), counselling and guided self-help. Bath Mind also offer affordable counselling sessions if this is something you’d like to explore.
Eat Nutritious Foods
Having nutritious and varied food is important for good health and wellbeing throughout our life. As we age, it becomes even more important. It’s estimated that as many as one in ten people over the age of 65 are at risk of malnutrition.
Some ways we can combat this include:
- Avoiding salty, greasy, and heavily processed foods. These foods can make you gassy or bloated,
which can make you feel fuller. They also tend to be lacking in nutrients.
- Eat in a social setting such as at a lunch club. Try to find out if a church, community group or charity
local to you has anything like this on offer. These clubs provide delicious, nutritious meals and give you the opportunity to meet new people and make new friends.
- Increase your intake of nutritious, energy-dense snacks such as peanut butter on
toast, unsalted nuts, and avocado on toast.
Engage in Physical Activity
Evidence suggests that physical activity can prevent some aspects of mental illness in older people such as depression and dementia. Regular movement can also help us connect with others, improve bone density, and reduce age-related cognitive decline!
Improve your immune system
As we grow older, our immune system does not work as well. The immune system becomes slower to respond, which can increase our risk of getting sick, and our body may heal more slowly because there are fewer immune cells in the body to bring about healing.
There are however things we can do to decrease the risks from immune system aging:
- Get vaccines and seasonal boosters to prevent from flu, COVID-19, and any other vaccines your health care provider recommends.
- Get plenty of exercise. Exercise increases the circulation of immune cells in our body.
- Eat nutritious foods to keep your immune system strong.
- Avoid smoking and limit alcohol intake as these can both weaken our immune system.
- Look into safety measures to prevent falls and injuries as a weaker immune system can slow healing from injuries.
Keep warm and well
Changes to our bodies as we get older can mean that cold weather and winter viruses affect us more than they used to. We gradually lose muscle mass that helps us keep warm and mobile. The cold also makes health conditions harder to manage.
Here are some things we can do to keep warm and well in the colder months:
- Engage in regular exercise. This can be done indoors if it’s cold or icy outside. AgeUK have some great accessible ideas for ways we can stay active.
- Wear plenty of layers. Vests, thermals and warm socks will all help.
- Drink warm drinks. A thermos is a good way of having warm drinks throughout the day and saves trips to the kitchen!
- Make sure your home is warm enough. If there are rooms you don’t use, like a spare bedroom, turn off the radiators here and close the doors. This will help you save on energy costs while keeping warm in winter. If you’re having trouble with the costs of heating your home, there is government help available.
Bath Mind’s wellbeing groups and mental health services welcome all adults who are registered with a GP in Bath and North East Somerset. Whatever it is you are experiencing, we are here to support you.