Living longer with improved mental health

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Mental wellness is important at all ages, but different stages of life can bring different mental health challenges. How to combat the unique mental health challenges associated with aging, in this week’s Mental Wellness Wednesday.

“I think the biggest thing is loneliness for people in that age group, because they become isolated,” Sunrise Retirement Community Executive Director Hallie Salmen said.

That isolation can often stem from the loss of independence that can come with aging.

“Sometimes they can’t drive anymore or they can’t do the things they used to do, and that’s hard to accept,” Mental Health Therapist Stacy Norton with the Boys and Girls Home said.

“That’s where the depression kind of comes in, if they lose that independence, lose that confidence,” Sunrise Retirement Community Activities Director Erin Anderson said.

Mental health professionals say the best way to fight off those feelings is to stay active.

“No matter what age you are, we’re always told that being physically active is good for your overall emotional well being and mental well being. So we provide a lot of fitness classes, we do a lot of recreation,” Salmen said.

Retirement communities like Sunrise offer socialization and interaction that can help provide a mental health boost.

“People have their social group right around them of their own peers and then we have a lot of activities happening all of the time,” Salmen said.

“We have a share group that meets monthly for our residents and then we have our chaplain services on sight here,” Anderson said. “There’s always someone here, they’re never alone…there’s a lot going on, a lot of movement.”

And for those who are still living on their own, there are other ways to stay connected.

“Church groups, volunteering, encourage their hobbies, find something to do that is purposeful,” Anderson said.

“Staying active and staying in touch with other people and not becoming isolated in their own homes, whether its their neighbors, or church groups or having someone who is going to stop by and check on them and know them, that’s what everyone craves,” Salmen said.

And while it may seem like a small thing, Salmen said having dinner with someone else can make a big difference in your well being and health; you’ll end up eating better, more nutritious food when you’re with someone else and enjoy the mental health boost of conversation and connection.

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