One of the biggest mistakes that family and professional caregivers can make when caring for a person who has dementia is to assume that their personality and experiences have been wiped clean, essentially giving their life a clean slate; it has not. A senior who has dementia is still the same person at their core, even if they drift in and out of memories at times.
Senior mental health has its own unique challenges that many of us cannot yet recognize. It’s common for family members to confuse a senior loved one’s symptoms of apathy, depression and anxiety as symptoms of dementia rather than a mental health issue.
While there have been advances in mental health treatment over the last few decades, a stigma still exists around addressing it. Seniors may feel especially reluctant to bring up these issues as they may be dismissed or grouped with other physiological conditions and ignored. What’s worse is that mental health has an impact on physical health and vice versa. Left untreated, depression can cause further damage to a senior’s already declining health.
Creating art offers these health benefits for people of all ages, but it offers a special opportunity for aging seniors to find control and purpose in their life again.
As some seniors age, they can develop chronic illnesses that can negatively affect every aspect of their life. In this post we’ll explain more about how using art as a form of therapy helps improve aging seniors’ mental health, cognitive abilities, and sensory-motor functions.
Gardening is a great form of therapy and exercise that provides benefits like stress relief, improved mood, positive self-esteem, increased strength and mobility, better heart health, improved dexterity, and it even reduces the risk of developing dementia. With some modifications to tools, and an altered garden layout, seniors gardening into their golden years is possible.
According to an article published by Harvard Medical School, anxiety is “one of the most common types of mental illness affecting people ages 60 and older.”
The Mental Health Commission of Canada estimates that by 2041, Canada’s senior population will have “the highest rate of mental illness” in the nation. If your senior loved is having anxious thoughts, they are certainly not alone, and if you’re looking for ways to help ease your loved one’s anxiety, you’re not alone, either.
The benefits of spending time with your parents are numerous. Connections are so valuable, and it is our experiences with each other that allow us to build and foster relationships. Our connections to others are not frozen in time; they erode without proper maintenance. Allowing this to happen will lead to deep feelings of regret, and we should all try to avoid this emotion as much as possible. The worst regrets are those that we cannot change. This is always true of regrets concerning how we spend our time. Try not to allow this to happen to you. Spend time with your loved ones and create new lasting memories, while revisiting cherished old ones.
There is growing evidence of health risks that stem from loneliness and social isolation in seniors, and the numerous negative effects it has on both mental and physical health. While loneliness and isolation is something many adults can relate to, the increased negative impact it has on seniors health is gaining awareness - but still has a long way to go.