Monday, 4 October 2021

Coping with ageing and its effects on mental and physical health

For many of us, hopefully, we will live until a ripe old age and get to enjoy a long and happy retirement. However, there may be some setbacks along the way that can make ageing for some people a greater struggle. As the body and mind age, it’s inevitable that there are going to be changes but there are ways that we can help keep our mental and physical wellbeing in optimum health. 

In a publication posted on Frontiers it states that “multiple social, psychological and biological factors are determinant of mental health, as well as life stressors. Among these, the lack of independence, limited mobility, chronic diseases, pain, frailty or other mental and physical problems, require long-term care.”

So, how can we come to terms with the ageing process and how can it affect our mental and physical health? There are five main issues that can impact our mental health as we get older:

  • Discrimination
  • Relationships
  • Participation in activities
  • Physical health
  • Poverty 

Although there will be some issues that are out of our control, we can take certain steps that will help us cope better with the effects of ageing.

Maintaining optimal health

As mentioned above, there are several reasons why our mental health might deteriorate as we get older, in particular, changes in lifestyle. It’s vital that we keep our minds and bodies as active as possible. Being retired doesn’t mean that you can’t stay busy, and by keeping yourself occupied, you’ll retain a sense of purpose.

  • Maintain an active social life. Age UK provides lots of information about activities in your area including social events, exercise classes and IT training. If you’re retired and feeling lonely, you might also find taking on some voluntary work will give you a boost and an opportunity to meet new people. 
  • If you’re able to, try and stay as active as possible even if it’s just walking to the shops or around your local park. Regular exercise has many benefits that can boost your physical and mental wellbeing. It can also promote good sleeping patterns that can help prevent anxiety, stress and depression.
  • It’s really important to exercise your brain too as you get older. You can keep your brain active by doing puzzles, reading, playing games such as chess or bridge, or learning a new skill. 
  • Eat a healthy balanced diet. A good diet is vital for keeping our minds and bodies in tip top condition at any age. Eating the right foods can help prevent osteoporosis, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and some cancers. It can also keep our minds focused and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Do things that make you happy. Whether you love to paint, play an instrument, or go dancing, by participating in an activity that you enjoy, your brain releases the chemical dopamine which will lift your mood and keep you feeling motivated.
  • Stay in touch with family and friends. Sometimes as we get older, we lose touch with those that are close to us, for whatever reason. Having a network of friends or family members that we can talk to or ask for help occasionally gives us a sense of belonging and security.

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