How Does Our Mental Health Change as we Age?

Thank you to JaNae Gregg, UNC Student Volunteer and Guest Blogger.

The aging process comes with many changes for our bodies, but a common change that gets overlooked is how our mental health changes.  The change in our mental health can be misunderstood for the common physical changes that can occur from aging. Some of these symptoms can reveal themselves as lack of motivation, fatigue, and forgetfulness.  One way to be able to recognize when a symptom is cause for a mental health concern includes: stable intellectual functioning, capacity for change, and productive engagement with life. When fatigue and lack of motivation begin to interfere with how a person interacts within their daily life, then it could become a possible warning sign that they are suffering from poor mental health.  It is easy to misinterpret physical changes with mental health since the two typically go hand in hand with one another. For example, if a person suffers from heart problems or diabetes then they are more likely to develop poor mental health. On the other hand, people who suffer from depression and/or anxiety are more likely to develop physical problems that could include lack of energy, trouble concentrating, and memory problems.

Coping with the changes that occur while aging should be a part of everyone’s long-term lifestyle.  This could be done by expecting and planning for changes to occur (at any stage of life), maintaining strong relationships with family and friends, and a willingness to stay excited and involved with life.  By taking preventative measures to help mental health early on in life, then there is a higher chance of having better mental health in the future.  

Following these steps can be very beneficial for mental health, but sometimes the changes and loneliness that occurs with aging is hard to combat.  It is important to recognize if these changes reach a point of being too much to handle. The most sure sign of poor mental health or loneliness is when it becomes an interference to a person’s daily life.  There are a variety of ways to help decrease feeling lonely, these strategies include: staying active, look for new social outlets and contacts, make friends with people of all ages, continue to set goals and work towards them, and learn to recognize and deal with signs of depression.  Having strong emotional and social support are two of the biggest factors that can help with mental health; it is also associated with reduced risk of physical illness and mortality.

Mental health is just as important as a person’s physical health.  If you or someone you know suffers from a mental health disease or just isn’t feeling themselves, it is wise to seek outlets that can be beneficial to help improve their well-being.  Seeking counseling can be very beneficial, but there are many other ways to help improve mental health. Starting a new exercise routine, eating a healthier diet, finding a hobby, and being social are all great simple ways to begin to improve mental health. 

Contact Covell Care at (970) 204-4331 to learn about our counseling services for you or a loved one.   

Source: https://www.psychologistanywhereanytime.com/psychologist/psychologist_aging_and_mental_health.htm