Did you know that 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem of some kind every year in England alone? To many people, mental health might just feel like the current hot topic but, in reality, it’s something that affects us all. It’s very important to be aware of your mental health and take active steps to look after your mental wellbeing, just like you would with your physical health!
We know it can be difficult to acknowledge and talk about how you’re feeling and that’s okay. It’s a learning curve for everybody. We hope that reading this blog will be a good start when it comes to looking after your mental health.
Today’s article comes from Becci Howard, who runs her own blog called A Medic’s Mental Health Journey.
Factors Affecting Mental Health
The process of getting older brings lots of changes – and mental health is no exception. Many factors can affect an older person’s mental wellbeing and make someone feel down or out of sorts. Below are some of the things that might have got you down lately:
Coronavirus has dominated the headlines and our day-to-day lives for the last year. This might affect your mental health if you are feeling worried about the virus itself or feeling lonely at home. Remember that you aren’t alone. Age UK reports that 1 in 3 older people currently feels more anxious than they did before the pandemic.
Retirement represents a huge change to your everyday routine, especially if you’ve been working all your adult life (or even longer!) You might it difficult to adjust to retired life for a few reasons. You may miss socialising at work or having the sense of structure and purpose that employment can give us.
Financial concerns can put a significant strain on our mental health. If you’re worried about money, you may want to seek advice about benefits to try and alleviate your concerns.
To learn more about the benefits you could be claiming, read: Benefits for Pensioners That You Should Be Receiving
The death of a loved one has an undeniable impact on mental health. Grieving is never an easy process. It can cause so many different feelings: sadness, frustration, anger, denial… the list goes on. Remember that you are not alone. Grief is something everybody goes through and everybody responds to it differently. It’s important to talk openly about your feelings with people you trust.
Being a Carer
Lots of people become carers for their partners, relatives, or friends in later life. Being a carer can be very rewarding but it can also take a toll on your mental wellbeing, especially when combined with any of the other factors we’ve discussed.
Sadly, around one million people over the age of 65 are victims of abuse each year in the UK. That’s according to Hourglass, the UK’s only charity focused on the abuse and neglect of older people. This abuse can take many forms including physical, verbal, sexual or financial abuse as well as neglect. If you are worried, please reach out. Call 999 if there is any immediate danger. Otherwise, the Hourglass helpline is available between 9am and 5pm from Monday to Friday. The National Domestic Abuse helpline (0808 2000 247) is also available 24/7.
Disability or Physical Health Problems
Elderly mental health and physical health go hand in hand. Disabilities and physical health issues can have an impact on your independence. It can be frustrating when you can’t do all the things you once enjoyed doing by yourself. Certain medications may also affect your mood. If you have any concerns about your physical or mental health, please speak to your doctor. Do not stop taking any medications suddenly without a doctor’s advice.
When the days are shorter and the weather is colder, it’s only natural to feel a little gloomy sometimes. However, if your mental health takes a knock in the winter months, you may be experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
To find out more, read: Seasonal Affective Disorder: Mental Health Tips For Winter.
According to NHS statistics, men and women aged 55 to 64 were the most likely to drink more than the recommended weekly amount of alcohol (14 units). Although many of us like a tipple, drinking too much alcohol can cause feelings of anxiety and low mood. If you drink, be sure to do so in moderation. Try to avoid drinking more than 14 units per week and spread out your alcohol consumption over three or more days; don’t drink all your weekly units at once!
If you’re trying to cut down your alcohol consumption, read: 5 Ways of Cutting Down and Quitting Alcohol.
No Particular Reason At All
Please remember that this is just as valid as any other reason on our list. Sometimes, we might not be able to pinpoint a particular reason for feeling sad or anxious and that’s okay. Regardless of your specific issues or their causes, everyone deserves support when it comes to mental health.
Elderly Mental Health Support
Lots of older people believe that feeling low is just a natural part of the ageing process, but this isn’t the case. If you have any concerns about your mental health and wellbeing, it’s important to speak to your doctor. Remember that mental health is just as important as physical health. Talking to your GP will help you feel better as soon as possible. Some people may be reluctant to reach out for help from a doctor but don’t worry – you won’t be bothering them, even during the pandemic. They are there to help you! You might have a telephone appointment instead of a face-to-face meeting to keep you both safe from the virus.
Looking After Your Mental Health
You can take steps to look after your own mental health too. Here are a few important steps that everyone can take:
Stay in Touch
It’s important to keep in contact with family and friends as much as you can. This will help to prevent feelings of isolation and loneliness, which have been a big factor in mental health issues since the pandemic began. Call your loved ones on the phone or use video calls.
For anyone who isn’t familiar with modern technology and social media, read: Keeping in Touch during Lockdown: Tech Tips for Older People
Did you know that Lifeline24 offers a daily Reassurance Calls service? We can call you every day to see how you’re doing and have a friendly chat.
Being physically active is also important. This doesn’t have to be anything vigorous! Just 10 minutes out in the garden or doing some chair exercises can bring huge benefits! If you are able to pop out for a walk with somebody else within the lockdown rules, this is even better; you can combine physical exercise and socialising, which are both important aspects of elderly mental health.
There are plenty of little ways to look after your mental health. Key examples include eating well, getting a good night’s sleep, and having a hobby or two to keep you occupied, such as reading, watching a new series, knitting, or painting.
All these things that might seem small, like booking a GP appointment or getting an extra hour of rest each day, can add up and help you feel like yourself again if you have been feeling out of sorts.
Read more: Top 15 Hobby Ideas for Older People
Talking about your feelings may seem daunting. Lots of people worry about feeling like a bother. If that sounds like you, just remember this: if it were the other way around, you wouldn’t want your friend feeling upset on their own and feeling unable to talk to anyone. You could talk to a range of different people. If you don’t want or need to visit a doctor, that doesn’t mean you can’t talk to other people like friends and family members.
On the NHS website, there are free talking therapies for anyone to access. These services allow you to talk about your feelings with a trained professional, who will help you work through them. This may be helpful if you don’t feel able to talk to people you know. Your GP can help you access these services if you are unable to access them online.
There are also helplines in place throughout the UK. For example, Age UK offers free advice and support on 0800 678 1602 between 8am and 7pm every day.
Make sure you reach out for support if you need it. You are important and your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Feeling sad or worried is not just a part of getting older and you don’t have to keep feeling like that if you do right now. Everybody deserves the support they need.
Stay safe and remember to look after your mental health during this lockdown and beyond.
Peace of Mind from Lifeline24
If you find yourself feeling anxious or stressed at home, you might benefit from the reassurance of a Lifeline alarm. Our life-saving service offers peace of mind to thousands of families up and down the UK. We offer a range of reliable, affordable alarms for elderly and disabled people. With a Lifeline alarm, you can call for help with just one touch of a button. Our expert Response Team is there to help 24/7, 365 days a year. We also offer an automatic Fall Detector alarm and a cutting-edge GPS alarm for reassurance wherever you go.
To find out more about the Lifeline Alarm service, you can read this helpful guide or give our friendly team a call.
Don’t forget to use exclusive discount code BLOG2021 to get £10 off your new Lifeline alarm!