International Day for Older Persons: Tips to maintain your well-being in old age

Published on Oct 01, 2022 01:41 PM IST

Mental illness isn’t a natural part of ageing. It's crucial to look after your mental health and well-being as you age. Here are some expert-approved tips to help the elderly enhance their mental wellbeing.

International Day for Older Persons: Tips to maintain your wellbeing in old age(pexels)
International Day for Older Persons: Tips to maintain your wellbeing in old age(pexels)

International Day for Older Persons: Requirements for mental wellness alter as we become older. A new stage of life with its own special struggles and challenges is brought in by ageing. This frequently causes older persons to feel burdened, anxious, and occasionally helpless. The world is undergoing a major demographic transition with the population of the elderly rising rapidly. Already, people over 60 years of age exceed children under 5, and by 2050 they will outnumber children under 15. Even as fertility rates dip across the world, life expectancy has increased by more than 6 years between 2000 and 2019, according to the United Nations. This transition has been accompanied by an increase in the number of mental health issues among the elderly. Approximately 15 per cent of all adults aged 60 and above globally suffer from a mental disorder, finds the UN. (Also read: Healthy ageing tips: Here's how an Indian balanced diet can work wonders for you )

Talking to HT Lifestyle, Prakriti Poddar, Mental Health Expert and Global Head, Mental Health and Wellbeing, RoundGlass, says, "There are several reasons and socio-economic factors that are causing the mental unrest in elders such as the rising number of nuclear families and migration of the younger generation due to urbanization are resulting in social isolation of the older generation. In addition, age-related aspects such as coping with a string of losses of physical and mental capabilities, of loved ones, of relevance and importance in one’s community – and declining capacities to accept and adapt are leaving the seniors struggling with mental health and wellbeing issues. Practicing wholistic wellbeing can empower and enable older adults to preserve their mental acuity and live with greater joy. "

She further recommends some healthy habits to help the elderly enhance their mental wellbeing and spend their twilight years with grace and dignity:

1. Nurture Social Connections: Our physical, sensory, and cognitive functions may decline with advancing age, but social functioning remains malleable and responsive to intervention throughout life. So, nurture your social connections as they have been linked to lower levels of anxiety and depression, and greater empathy. So, pick up the phone and call up your friends/family, and make plans for the weekend.

2. Move: The ‘Healthy body, healthy mind’ adage is true for all age groups. Being physically active can help boost your self-esteem and confidence and give you an opportunity to meet people. For those who can, doing regular exercise or yoga will also help you to sleep better, reduce the risk of falls by improving balance and strength, and improve cardiovascular health.

3. Meditate: Practicing meditation and mindfulness has benefits for all ages. It has been shown to alleviate stress, reduce anxiety, improve our relationships and improve sleep – all highly relevant outcomes for seniors. Meditation has also been shown to delay cognitive decline in older adults. So, get that mat and dedicate some time daily to expanding your inner awareness.

4. Find a purpose: Retirement is not the end, but the beginning of your later life. It is a transition phase that can be used meaningfully to share your experience and skills with the younger generation or with those who are less privileged. Doing volunteer/community service or paid part-time/consultancy work can add a much-needed purpose (and financial heft!) to your life post-60. Keep your senses and the mind is engaged by learning new skills, reading and solving puzzles.

3. Plan for end of life: Financial wellbeing post-retirement, health insurance, wills etc. can become a source of stress and anxiety in old age but they need not. Using technological tools such as wellbeing apps can help you plan better for your twilight years without impacting your mental health.

5. Eat healthy: Eating a nourishing diet is essential for physical and mental wellbeing, and for keeping your energy levels up throughout the day. Stay well hydrated, consume alcohol in moderation and include plenty of fruits and vegetables in your meals.

In addition, expressing gratitude, being mindful, living in the present, and finding joy in every moment can help you enjoy this final phase of life as much as you cherish your youth. Keep working towards your wellbeing and thrive.

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