Managing the Mental Health of Seniors in a Dynamically Changing World

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Coping with the death of a family member

Allow Yourself to Grieve

One of the most important things you can do when faced with the death of a loved one is to allow yourself to grieve. You may experience shock, anger, sadness, and can even feel lost or helpless. This is normal, but it is necessary to express these feelings because keeping them in will only lessen your ability to cope.

Talk to your family and friends about what you are feeling. It is likely that they are feeling the same emotions as you and talking about it will help you cope and find closure. Talking about your loved one after their death is also a great way to honor their memory and help you appreciate the moments you had with them. There are other ways to honor them as well, including donating to their favorite charities, planting a tree in their memory, or spending time with family to share stories and reminisce with photos of fun times. These kinds of activities, while they may seem difficult, will help you find closure and acceptance.

When you experience the death of a family member, you will be filled with many emotions and may also be required to do things like make funeral arrangements or work with their estate planners to carry out their final will. During this time, it is imperative that you take care of yourself and not neglect your needs – eat well, get plenty of rest, and try to continue doing the things that bring you joy. Whether this is exercise or spending time with friends, this will help you cope and keep a level head while dealing with other responsibilities.

MEDIA INQUIRIES

As much as we focus on looking after the physical health of the aging population, it's just as important, if not more so, to focus on their mental health as well. 

Social isolation and feelings of loneliness are common and widespread among seniors and they pose a serious health concern. Unaddressed, they can develop into depression and anxiety, which in turn are associated with a higher risk of accidents, injuries, and other health issues. 

If you have a loved one who is over the age of 65 and lives alone, it's important to pay attention to their mood and mental health. Even if your loved one seems to be doing well, it’s always a good idea to work with them to create a strategy to keep them engaged and involved in family and community. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

1. Consider their living situation

Families are more spread out geographically these days, and it's not uncommon for relatives to live several hours away from each other. This makes it all but impossible to visit more than a few times a year, at most. Much of the loneliness that seniors feel stems from the fact that they live in areas that don’t make it easy to have regular visits. 

If this sounds like your family’s situation, discuss options for moving your loved one close by, so you can have more frequent visits and play a more active role in each other’s lives. In considering the possibilities, also keep in mind that it’s important for seniors to have access to good transportations options, such as public buses or private senior shuttle services, that let them stay autonomous once they can no longer drive themselves.

2. Welcome a pet into their lives

There are so many benefits to pet ownership, especially for seniors who are at risk of isolation. First and foremost, a pet helps establish daily routines that may include walking, feeding, cleaning, and caring for them. Many people find a great sense of purpose in these activities. They’re also a great way to get outdoors and stay active. 

Just as important is the sense of companionship that a pet can provide. They offer a form of emotional support that can keep loneliness and low moods at bay.

3. Help them with social media

Social media is a powerful way to stay connected, and seniors stand to gain a lot from learning the basics of Facebook, video chats, and email. 

If your loved one isn’t keen on the idea, don’t be deterred. Many people who are intimidated by the thought of social media are often pleasantly surprised by how easy and accessible it is and by how much it adds to their social lives and their emotional well-being.

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