Exercise and proper diet are usually the top priorities when it comes to the health and well-being of older people. However, there is a mental health component that is as equally important for aging well as exercise and diet. Self-care has become a popular concept in the last two decades as the world has moved at a faster digital pace. Self-care is defined as "any activity we purposefully do to protect our physical, emotional and mental health."
Caregiver circles often discuss about self-care - exhausted mothers who struggle to find a balance between work and personal life, or adult children who take care of their aging parents and also have family and job responsibilities. However senior self-care is also very important. According to the Centers for Disease Control's report on the state of mental health and aging in America, about 20 percent of people over the age of 55 suffer from a mental health problem, the most common being depression and anxiety. The report also highlights the fact that emotional and social support can significantly reduce the risk of mental health problems, meaning that self-care should always take these two aspects into account.
Self-care activities for seniors
Taking into consideration that self-care activities for seniors should benefit both the emotional and social aspects of their lives, here is a list of self-care tips for older adults that fulfill both these aspects:
1. Spend some time in nature with a close friend. Scientific studies have shown that immersion in nature can calm your mind and reduce anxiety. A natural environment is a perfect self-care environment, especially if you’re in the company of a family member or a good friend. A hike up a mountain, a nice walk on the beach, or a nature walk through the woods can improve your emotional and social connection.
2. Start a gratitude diary. Aging is not easy, and often older adults start worrying about things they can't longer control. But if you start writing down all the positive things that happen to you and you’re grateful for everyday, you may start feeling a positive change in your life. An article published by Harvard Health on the benefits of gratitude states that "gratitude is closely related to happiness. Gratitude helps people to form healthy relationships, feel more positive emotions, deal with adversity, improve their health and relish good experiences."
3. Invite a loved one over for dinner or call him at least once a week. Depression can be triggered if a person feels lonely or isolated. A wonderful way to avoid feeling depressed and take care of yourself, is to invite a loved one over for dinner or call him at least once a week. And if you decide to call instead of inviting him over for dinner, you can still have some face time with your family member or friend. Thanks to technological improvements over the years, making phone calls more than just an audio experience. You can use a computer to video chat through Skype or an iPad or iPhone to FaceTime. The key is to schedule these calls the way you would for dinner: make it official by adding it to your calendar.
4. Start or join a book club. Reading a book and letting your imagination run free is a great mental stimulation, and starting or joining a book club is a wonderful way to socialize and practice self-care for seniors. If you are not sure where to look for a book club, try one of your local colleges. Many universities and colleges are now offering book clubs for seniors, moderated by their professors. You'll be surprised how much you will enjoy sharing the experience of reading with other people.
5. Visit a therapist on a weekly basis. Although therapy has had a negative stigma over many years, therapy has proven to be efficient in dealing with difficult emotions and stresses that occur in your life. While it doesn’t appear as something necessary on the list of self-care activities for seniors, regular therapy sessions can relieve the feeling of back pain, help you sleep better at night and reduce your risk of depression.
When senior safety and self-care and intersect
Although these self-care tips for older adults focus on the emotional and social components of well-being, the physical and organizational components are also important. When it comes to self-care, it is important to actively address your health needs as you age, even if it is overlooked by many.
A Medical Guardian medical alert device is a great example of how you can more actively address your health as you age. Medical alarms have been proven to improve the health outcomes for people who experience falls inside and outside the home. Many people wait to experience a medical emergency before investing in a medical warning device. However, this doesn’t have to be the case. Buying a medical alarm before an accident is a great way to take care of yourself every day. Think of it as an investment in yourself and your well-being.
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