The aging population rapidly increases and between 2015 and 2050. The proportion of older adults will double from about 12 to 22 percent. This is an expected increase from 900 million to 2 billion people over the age of 60. Older people face special physical and mental health challenges that need attention.
The World Health Organization says over 20 percent of adults aged 60 and over suffer from a mental or neurological disorder, excluding headache disorders, and 6.6 percent of all disability attributes to mental and neurological disorders. The most common mental and neurological disorders in this age group are dementia and depression, which affect approximately 5% and 7% of the world’s older population. Anxiety disorders affect 3.8% of the older population, substance use problems affect almost 1% and around a quarter of deaths from self-harm are among people aged 60 or above.
Maintaining your mental health is vital because mental health affects every aspect of your life. When your mental health is in good shape, your physical health, relationships and overall quality of life tend to also be in good shape.
Health promotion – The mental health of older adults can be improved through promoting active and healthy aging. Mental health-specific well-being for older adults involves creating living conditions and environments that support healthy lives. Promoting mental health depends largely on strategies to ensure that older people have the necessary resources to meet their needs, such as:
Provide security and freedom;
Adequate housing through supportive housing policy;
Social support for older people and their caregivers;
Health and social programs targeted at vulnerable groups such as those who live alone and rural populations or who suffer from a chronic or relapsing mental or physical illness;
Programs to prevent and deal with elder abuse.
Maintaining Good Mental Health
Enhance Sleep – As people age they tend to have a harder time falling asleep. It is a common misconception that sleep needs decline with age. So, what’s keeping seniors awake? Changes in the patterns of our sleep – what specialists call “sleep architecture” – occur as we age. Sleep disturbance among the elderly can be attributed to physical and psychiatric illnesses and the medications used to treat them.
Also, add meditation to your daily regime, along with exercise.
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Carol Marak, aging advocate, Seniorcare.com. She’s earned a Certificate in the Fundamentals of Gerontology from UC Davis, School of Gerontology.