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Mid Coast Center for Community Health & Wellness Newsletter
May 2018
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Maintaining Good Mental Health as You Age

Senior Mental Health

Though we cannot stop the so-called clock, maintaining good mental health as we age can ease progression into older adulthood. Maintaining good mental health not only helps us cope better with the aging process, but it can also help limit some of the effects of aging.

Despite popular belief, older adults as a whole are not an inactive group that cannot change old habits. Some theories, in fact, purport that older people are better at adapting to new situations because previous experience has taught them what does and does not work when facing a change.

Aging can be a time for continued growth and development. We do not stop learning when we hit age 65. There is no reason to expect mental health changes are we grow older; becoming old and depressed is not normal. Lifestyle changes are possible at any age and can have a significant effect on our mental health.

Here are some ways to maintain good mental health as you age:

  • Get an Annual Physical. See a provider you trust and you can really talk to honestly. Be an advocate for yourself and ask questions. Make a list of questions before you go and review the list at the appointment. If you would feel more comfortable, take someone with you; an extra set of eyes and ears will help you remember what was said at the appointment.
  • Stop Smoking and Reduce Alcohol Intake. It is never too late to quit. Also, limit alcoholic intake. As we get older, we cannot metabolize alcohol like we did when we were younger. One 4- to 6-ounce drink daily is plenty.
  • Exercise. Go work in the garden, take a walk, or take a water aerobics class. Keep your body in motion.
  • Engage Your Brain. Learning a new skill or maintaining old ones can stave off feelings of depression. Join a book group or a current events meeting. Do something you have always wanted to do but didn't have time when you were younger. Examples include taking a language class, traveling with an elder hostel group, and learning to knit or crochet. Non-profit organizations are always looking for volunteers. Become politically active.
  • Get a Good Night’s Sleep. Poor sleep is linked to many mood disorders. Practicing good sleep hygiene is not always easy, but it will help you feel better overall. Go to bed and get up the same time every day. Avoid heavy meals, caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol before bed. Develop a regular sleeping routine (warm shower or bath, dimming the lights, light reading) to signal your body that it's time to sleep. Keep daytime naps to 20-30 minutes. If you don't fall asleep within a half hour of going to bed, get up, do a relaxing activity and then go back to bed. Don't become involved in a project that will be stimulating and prevent sleep.
  • Stay Connected and Have Fun. Find something that you find fulfilling and interesting. Our need to feel useful does not decrease with age. Keep in touch with family and friends. Do something you enjoy at least once a day, and try to laugh every day.

Select a few of these recommendations to focus on and work on making these changes in your life. The mind-body connection is real. Keeping yourself active and engaged will help you maintain good mental health.

Calendar Highlights
Summer Meditation Series
Aug 24, 2022
Youth Mental Health First Aid Training
Sep 20, 2022
Calendar Highlights
Summer Meditation Series
Aug 24, 2022
Youth Mental Health First Aid Training
Sep 20, 2022
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