How to help your aging parents with their mental health
The beauty in life is change, and your relationships are no exception — especially your relationship with your parents. You have the opportunity to rediscover them from a more mature perspective. It’s certainly not unusual to find fresh ways to relate to them through the challenges you’ve both faced through parenthood, in your careers, or in your respective personal lives.
Although your parents can impart you with plenty of knowledge for your future and life in general, you can do the same by providing additional assistance or guidance as they age, especially with their mental health. You may think you may not be qualified enough to bolster their psychological wellness, but as their child, you play an invaluable role in assisting in their growth as a person.
Let’s take a specific look at how you can help.
Isolation is one of the common challenges concerning the mental health of seniors. One recent 2020 report found that more than 25% of people aged 65 and over are considered to be socially isolated. This isolation can be caused by a variety of factors, including the passing of loved ones, or transitioning into an assisted living home and away from family. No matter the cause, however, isolation can contribute to feelings of anxiety and depression, among other psychological and cognitive challenges. It is, therefore, important to encourage your aging parents to socialize.
Older people can benefit most from social activities in the community they can incorporate into their everyday lives. This might involve taking education courses in which they engage with other learners while also bolstering their cognitive abilities. Joining a sports team geared toward seniors also offers opportunities for meaningful connections while supporting physical wellness. They may find getting involved in volunteer organizations with like-minded individuals while discovering a rewarding way to give back to the community.
It’s equally important, though, for your aging parents to find practical ways to keep in touch with friends and family. If your parents live with mobility challenges, it is wise to establish travel options that empower them to visit with friends independently as well as seek out community resources that provide transport. It’s also good to guide them in using valuable online tools like video calling software. This helps them to regularly speak to their loved ones distantly with vital face-to-face experiences.
Consider Their Environment
Environmental considerations play an important role in managing mental health. People’s surroundings can contribute to their sense of wellness and vitality. An overly cluttered space can lead to feelings of anxiety and being overwhelmed. On the other hand, you can easily lend a helping hand that can help your parents adjust to a new stage of life and will support their mental wellness.
This can involve making decorative changes that create a positive atmosphere. Work with them in choosing new colors for walls or soft furnishings that establish areas of energy or calm in rooms they’re most needed. Talk to them about different strengths, hues, and sources of lighting and how these can aid their focus or relaxation.
Redesigning for mobility can also be an important consideration in terms of reducing stress in their lives. As your parents age, their needs will likely develop and some existing design choices may not be practical. The more hazards and obstacles your parents face in navigating their own home, the more anxious they may be. Collaborate in honestly identifying areas of difficulty fairly regularly and devise workable solutions.
Be Mindful of Nutrition
It’s important to recognize that various aspects of life can impact mental health. Nutrition is often most commonly linked to physical wellness and reducing the risks of illness. However, it’s important to help your parents understand how their dietary choices can bolster their ongoing mental wellness, too.
Take the time to discuss how some food and drink items can impact an aging person’s stress and anxiety levels. Blood sugar spikes and crashes associated with too much candy can trigger experiences similar to panic attacks. Higher consumption of processed meats has also been linked to not just peaks in stress but also symptoms of depression.
This doesn’t mean that your parents necessarily need to cut out all the foods they enjoy. After all, they’re grown adults capable of making their own decisions on what boosts their quality of life. Nevertheless, offering information about mindful consumption can help them make more informed decisions.
It can also be wise to help them recognize how dietary schedules impact their mental wellness. Discuss foods, like oatmeal and bananas, that give them an energy boost if they’re feeling sluggish and a little melancholy in the middle of the day. Talk about minimizing items like alcohol and dairy products late at night to ensure their quality of sleep isn’t disrupted in ways that can lead to depression and stress.
As your parents age, you may find it a positive step to support them in mitigating mental health challenges. This may include establishing ways to reduce isolation or making their environment less stressful. It’s also important to empower them with the knowledge to make informed choices about how their nutrition impacts their psychological wellness. With some focus and planning, you can collaborate in making certain they enjoy mental health in their later years.
Guest post by Luke Smith
Tags: aging parents, crossroads health, helping your aging parents, lake county, mental health awareness, Mentor Ohio, parents, parents mental health, self care