Did you know? 1 in 5 older people living in communities across Canada struggle with poor mental health. Moreover, 2 in 5 people living in care facilities are treated for mental health issues, such as depression, delirium, and Dementia. In 2016, 1.8 million people aged 60 years and older were living with a mental health issue. In a majority of the cases, the issue had gone untreated, undetected, and undiagnosed for years. That’s because not all signs and symptoms of poor mental health are visible to the naked eye and many people are not ready to accept a diagnosis.
Growing older is an experience we all share and many of us worry about. As we age, we face many new challenges that cause us additional stress – we are not as strong as we used to be, some health problems are more chronic, our children move away from home, our loved ones pass away, we become more isolated and lonely, and we must eventually leave our jobs and retire. Although coping with these challenges can be difficult, it can be done. The key is to appropriate the right coping strategies that will ensure your mental health and well-being for many years to come.
While mental health is a growing problem among seniors, it does not mean that every person over the age of 65 will experience it. Mental health is widely misunderstood and there is a stigma that surrounds mental health issues. This stigma prevents people from getting the assistance they need. The only way to stop the stigma is to learn as much as you can about it and dispel some of the myths.
The following article, written by our experienced caregivers for seniors in Vancouver and surrounding areas, delves into a frequently asked question on geriatric and mental health forums – how do you look after your mental health in later life? It offers 4 practical tips to help caregivers for the elderly better serve their clients or family members.
4 Ways to Look after your Mental Health as you Age | Caregivers for Elderly Vancouver
Tip #1: Talk about your concerns
Any problem, regardless of how difficult it is, becomes easier to manage when you have someone to talk to about it. Talking it out with the right individual(s) will help you rationalize your thoughts and make sense of a situation and how you feel. It can also make you feel supported and less isolated.
Who to talk to
Who you want to talk with depends on what’s worrying you. You could try:
• Friend, family member, or trusted neighbour
• Someone with specialist knowledge (e.g., financial planner who can help you manage your bills)
• An impartial person (e.g., counsellor)
• A person who promises confidentiality (e.g., lawyer, family physician).
Community support groups are also useful. There is no better person to talk to than a person who has been in your shoes before.
Tip #2: Think Ahead and Plan
Constant worries that are not dealt with immediately take a toll on our long-term mental health and wellbeing. One way to ease some of our worries, especially the ones that take up the most of our time, is to create a plan. Your plan should contain SMART (specific , measurable, actionable, relevant, and time sensitive) goals. By preparing a plan, you are likely to expose and deal with many of your worries in advance. A regular review of your plan helps to make sure you are still on track. Include in your plan the sort of feelings you could experience and how you could deal with them.
What needs planning?
The following are some common triggers of worries among elders:
• Staying active, having a healthy life, and mobility
• The physical and mental health of ourselves and others
• Pensions and financial considerations
• Access to local facilities and transport
• Remaining independent and having control over our own life
• Caring for ourselves and others
• Wills, end of life, and funerals
It is also imperative to plan for leisurely things, such as spending time with family, developing new hobbies, and enjoying your free time.
Tip#3: Engage in Physical Activity and Sleep Well
It goes without saying, sleeping well and engaging in physical activity can significantly improve your health and well being. Unfortunately, not everyone follows through with what they read and learn about. These two activities are often put aside on the backburner. Chronic illnesses as well as mental health problems that arise from the lack of exercise and sleep deprivation can limit your ability to deal with stress and be more creative.
Benefits to Physical Activity:
– Improves self-esteem, self-worth, self-confidence;
– Promotes good sleep patterns;
– Helps you meet new people and avoid isolation;
– Meaningful activity.
Being active does not necessarily mean going to the gym or doing yoga at a local fitness centre. Being active does not have to cost much money. Many community centres offer activities at low rates. If that is not possible, you can always opt to take a walk around the neighbourhood or complete the exercises at home. Speak with your physician first before making any decisions.
Tip#4: Consider Home Care Services
There is a stigma surrounding home care – the person requiring it is becoming less independent. This is not always the case. Many of our caregivers who work with seniors in Vancouver and surrounding areas (e.g., South Surrey, Surrey, Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, White Rock) have clients who are very capable of being independent. They simply require someone to help check in on them once a day, assist them with day-to-day chores, and for leisurely and entertainment purposes. Caregivers are seniors; best resource for combating mental health problems because they are the next best thing to family members and friends.
Ace Personnel | Professional Homecare & Caregivers | Vancouver, Fraser Valley, White Rock, British Columbia
If you need caregiver assistance for the elderly members of your family in the Vancouver, South Surrey, Surrey, Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, White Rock areas, give our agency a call. We have trained and professional staff that will work around your schedule to ensure the most optimal care plan for your loved one. Click here to visit our website.