A brain that is challenged and engaged is a much happier brain. After your kids have left the home and you have retired it is very easy to find yourself struggling to stay busy and engaged. Diana Rodriguez from EverydayHealth.com interviewed medical experts to find out what Seniors can do to overcome this struggle.
This internal struggle may lead to feelings of depression. Do not feel alone in these feelings. The National Alliance on Mental Illness says that over 6.5 million American seniors suffer from depression. Independent seniors have the lowest risk, the CDC reports that depression affects 1 to 5 percent of them. At the other end of the spectrum, 13.5 percent of those require in-home help and 11.5 percent of those seniors who are hospitalized.
Surprisingly with these numbers, depression in seniors is frequently overlooked. But, what can we do to prevent senior depression and boost senior mental health?
1. Just Keep Moving
Exercise is essential for the body and mind. Do something, go for a walk or join an exercise class. A study released last year by the Journal of American Medical Directors Association found that just one 60 minute dance class a week led to significant improvements in depression symptoms.
2. Socialize at Your Senior Center
Jaza Marina, MD a geriatrician with Kaiser Permanente: “Senior centers offer a variety of classes, from crafts and hobbies to computer classes, to keep the mind interested and active”. Many senior centers can offer transportation to those in need as well.
3. Stay Involved in Family Gatherings
Find a ways to be involved and visit often with family, in particular grandchildren.
4. Call on Friends
Stay connected with your peers and old friends. The social stimulation will do your brain good.
5. Turn To Technology to Stay in Touch
Schedule regular phone calls to catch up with friends and family. Make Skype or FaceTime calls to the grand kids.
6. Go Back to School
Challenge your brain by enrolling in a class at your local community college. These classes can be offered sometimes free or at a very low cost.
7. Get a Pet
Caring for a pet can be very helpful. Animals make seniors much more socially engaged, less depressed, and less agitated.
8. Play Games
Try word puzzles, crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, and Soduko to keep your brain stimulated and healthy. Social games are also a great excuse to get a group together and socialize.
9. Make A Deeper Spiritual Connection
Religion and the community that goes with it can offer extremely meaningful support and activities. Also your place of worship can offer a great venue for volunteering.
10. Make a Difference
Volunteering comes in many different shapes and sizes. Giving back can be one of the best ways to add meaning to you life.