After a year in which many of us have experienced isolation, there has never been a more significant focus on mental health. As such, you may be considering how you can best support your elderly loved ones in maintaining their emotional health, especially as we head into winter where it may be more challenging for them to get out and about.
What is ‘mental health’?
Mental health refers to how you feel emotionally, including how you think and cope with everyday events. Mental wellbeing is just as important as physical health, so it’s essential to take good care of yourself.
With depression affecting 22% of men and 28% of women aged 65 and over, many individuals may think that feeling low or anxious about changes taking place in their life is a normal part of ageing. However, this is not the case, and if problems are ignored, they can impact on a person’s physical wellbeing.
So, what can you do to support your loved ones?
Life can be busy, but finding the time to check in regularly can make a world of difference. Give your loved one a ring every few days or drop by for some socially distanced tea and cake, making sure to ask how they’re getting on. Social interaction can be vital for boosting emotional wellbeing and ensures they don’t feel lonely.
Encourage physical activity
Just as much as emotional health impacts on physical wellbeing, being fit and active can support good mental health. Encourage them to go on walks in their local area, or show them how to do chair exercises, and they’ll benefit from a boost of dopamine, perfect for reducing feelings of stress, anxiety or depression.
Introduce new hobbies
Hobbies can not only provide your loved ones with something to keep them busy but gives them a chance to destress and relax. Arts and crafts, such as painting or drawing, are ideal for exploring their creative side and can be simple to get started on.
Other hobbies could also include knitting, embroidery or cross-stitch and are all perfect for keeping the mind active. Alternatively, if they’re looking for something a little simpler to exercise their minds, crosswords and word searches can be a great choice.
Introduce coping mechanisms
Coping mechanisms can provide the perfect way for your loved ones to check in with themselves and help them take back control of how they’re feeling. If they’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed, show them how to meditate and control their breathing.
By breathing in deeply to the count of five, holding for five before exhaling to another count of five, they may find themselves feeling calmer and more peaceful than before.
Provide a list of helplines
Most importantly, you’ll want to ensure they can easily access professional help and support should you be unavailable, or if they want to speak to someone confidentially. There’s a lot of support available for elderly individuals looking for mental health advice, and many are available via telephone.
For mental health and general advice, call Age UK: 0800 678 1602
For loneliness and general advice, call Independent Age: 0800 319 6789
For mental health support, call the Samaritans: 116 123
For befriending and mental health advice, call The Silver Line: 0800 470 80 90
For grief and bereavement advice, call Cruse: 0808 808 1677
Here at The Portland Residential Care, we take the mental wellbeing of our residents seriously. Our carers spend time with every resident each day to discuss how they’re feeling and monitor their wellness. We also host a range of daily activities to keep them engaged, allowing residents to explore their creative side while connecting with others socially.
For more information check out the website at https://www.portlandnursinghome.co.uk/ or call 01298 24777.