Category: Depression

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

The Sandwich Generation: Caring for yourself while caring for others

Guest blogger Maya Stiles, Covell Care Intern and Colorado State Student.

Many caregivers may find themselves to be “Sandwiched”; not in a yummy snack but in fact something completely different. “The Sandwich Generation” is as a phrase used to describe people roughly between the ages of 30-50 years old who are taking care of a child, while also caring for their elderly family members. These “sandwiched” people can often find themselves being pulled in every direction by providing emotional, physical, mentally and financial support.

While caring for your family can be one of the most rewarding and uplifting things, it can also cause immense stress and take a toll on you emotionally and physically. In order to care for others, you must also take care of yourself. Below are four tips to take care of yourself while
caring for others…

  1. Take Regular Breaks- We often feel like we cannot spare a minute in our day, but if you break it down by 10, 20, or 30-minute increments; you find that it becomes much more achievable.
  2. Get enough Sleep- When life starts getting crazy, good sleep seems like the first thing to go out the window. However, in order to take of others, you must prioritize yourself. Getting 7-9 hours of sleep a night will ensure you are rested and ready to provide quality love and care to others.
  3. Laugh often- Plain and simple- laughter is the best medicine. Keeping things light by utilizing humor is a great way to release stress and take care of yourself and others.
  4. Be aware of Burnout- Taking care of others is a full-time job and can be even more demanding when paired with other jobs and life responsibilities. Everyone needs support, even when it is hard to ask for help.

Remember, you cannot take care of others unless you take care of yourself first. Keeping these four self-care practices in the back of your mind can provide you with some relief and support. However, If you feel like you need some extra support or resources please refer to Covell Care’s services and resources at https://www.covellcare.com.

References:
https://caregiveraction.org
https://www.caregiverstress.com/stress-management/
https://www.drnorthrup.com/how-to-care-for-yourself-when-caring-for-loved-ones/

Exercise as Medicine: Activity as Depression Management

Guest blogger Galen Friesen, Covell Intern and Colorado State University graduate.

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 18% of the population every year. The process of treatment for mental conditions can be frustrating and extremely stressful; but a viable treatment option exists innately within every single person.

Exercise is always an option regardless of ability level, experience, or life circumstance. Exercise looks slightly different for every person, and can be tailored to meet individual needs extremely well. Public health recommendations for exercise (150 minutes hours to 300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise [1]) have been shown to be scientifically effective at treating depression [2]. Analysis of 80 studies also shows that benefits of exercise can even be obtained regardless of duration, as long as a consistent frequency is maintained [3]. This means that something as simple as a daily walk can help combat depression, as long as it is a consistent practice. So if long concentrated exercise sessions are not a good fit for you, consistent physical activity is still an option, if frequency is emphasized.

The main takeaway of the relationship between exercise and mental health is that exercise is an effective and proven way to mitigate symptoms of mental illness and there are seemingly endless different ways to go about exercising, so there is guaranteed to be a form of exercise that suits each individual differently.

Sources:
[1] HHS Office, & Council on Sports. (2019, February 01). Physical Activity Guidelines for
Americans. Retrieved from https://www.hhs.gov/fitness/be-active/physical-activity-guidelines-for-americans/index.html
[2] Exercise treatment for depression: Efficacy and dose response. (2004, December 27). Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0749379704002417
[3] Craft, L. L., & Perna, F. M. (2004). The Benefits of Exercise for the Clinically Depressed. The Primary Care Companion to The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry,06(03), 104-111. doi:10.4088/pcc.v06n0301

Trying Natural Alternatives: Acupuncture

Blog provided by JaNae Gregg, University of Northern Colorado Student and Covell Care Intern.

Keeping our bodies filled with energy and balance are two important keys to a healthy lifestyle.  Acupuncture is a healthy and natural way to cure physical or mental ailments.  This practice first began more 2,500 years ago in China and since has been used to diagnose, treat, and improve general health.  The main effectiveness of acupuncture comes from modifying the flow of energy in the body.

When acupuncture is performed, the patients can either lay face up or face down (depending on which points need to be used).  Then a single use disposable needle is inserted.  When the needle is inserted it can cause a sting or tingling sensation at first, then the needle remains there for five to thirty minutes.  While the needle remains in place the patient may feel a dull ache, but the treatment is relatively painless.   By placing the needles into certain points it brings the energy flow back into proper balance.

The best part of acupuncture is that it is all natural!  There are little to none side effects, it can be combined with other treatments, it can control various types of pain, and helps patients stay off medication.  Acute problems can be cured from eight to twelve sessions, while chronic may take one to two sessions a month for several months.

There are many misconceptions about natural remedies, but medications, surgeries, or other treatments haven’t worked for you, then give acupuncture a chance.  It has been known to not only cure illnesses, but to also prevent future medical problems from arising.  Using acupuncture can be the start of a new way to healthier and natural lifestyle.

The Benefits of Acupuncture

  1. Muscle spasms and pain
  2. Chronic back problems and pain
  3. Headaches and migraines
  4. Neck pain
  5. Osteoarthritis
  6. Knee pain
  7. Allergies
  8. Digestive problems
  9. Mood and depression
  10. Sleep problems
  11. High and low blood pressure
  12. Nausea
  13. Reduce risk of stroke
  14. Facial pain
  15. Vascular dementia

What to look for with your loved one this holiday season…

The holiday season is a time of gatherings with friends and families, visits to your loved one’s home and hours upon hours of conversation. This is a time when you see a new perspective or maybe even see the truth behind the multiple phone calls or short visits that happen throughout the year.

Go into your holiday season with some insight to better understand your loved ones, their situation and needs. Don’t forget to pack the Aging Life Care Association’s ‘red flag’ list with you when you leave for the holidays.

  1. Scan & take mental notes about your loved one’s environment. Signs of damage in the home, on their vehicle, unopened mail, items placed in unusual areas, decline in cleanliness.
  2. Check out their food. Is there enough food, is it expired, notice any changes in weight (up or down).
  3. Has their mood or behavior changed in any way? Has their social life changed, do they have new friends, are they donating large amounts to organizations, is there an increase in confusion, are they walking differently or change a routine, are they irritable or withdrawn.
  4. Are they keeping up on their personal hygiene? Dressing for the day, showering regularly, do you smell urine or bowels, are their clothes clean, notice any bruising on their skin.

There are many other small pieces you can take away from an encounter with a loved one but here is a start. If you notice any changes and don’t know where to turn contact us for some direction. (970) 204-4331.

Wishing you and your family a happy, safe holiday season!