How Can We Support Our Elderly Parent’s Mental Well-Being?


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In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of seniors suffering from mental health issues, with depression and dementia being two of the most common mental illnesses in Singapore.


With that in mind, here are 3 simple things we can do to support our elderly loved ones’ mental well-being to keep their mind healthy.

1. Finding connection: Stay social


Loneliness and isolation are known to have serious negative health consequences that contribute to early mortality, and this effect was particularly pronounced during the epidemic. Studies have shown that people who enjoy frequent social contact had a 70 percent lower rate of cognitive impairment than those who had little social contact.


Social connections are essential for positive mental well-being to build a sense of purpose and foster relationships.

The followings are some of the actions that you can encourage your parents to take part in to increase social connections:


· Regular virtual meetings with relatives and friends

· Engaging them with social media

· Finding an interest-based community such as AIC and AWWA

· Participate in volunteering work if possible

· Having regular mahjong sessions with peers


Remaining socially connected helps to support our seniors’ brain health and reduce the risk of depression, it can also potentially delay the onset of dementia.


2. Active living


Our bodies and minds are intimately connected. A healthy body leads to a healthy mind.


It is often encouraged that elderly are physically active to keep their body and mind healthy. Endorphins are released during exercise, which acts as a stress reliever and leaves you feeling pleased and content.


To get started, seniors can take a look at the 7 Easy Exercises recommended by HealthHub. Elderly with limited mobility can also take part in simple sitting exercises curated just for them. For seniors who prefer to be engaged with activities, try a group exercise class such as Zumba or Tai Chi at your nearby community center.


Doing Housework has also been suggested as a way for seniors who don't like to exercise to be mentally fit. According to a new local study, seniors who did more housekeeping of any kind had an 8 percent greater attention span and memory test than those who did not do any housework. Heavy housework has the same effect as exercise since the body reacts in the same way in both activities.

3. Eat healthily

Having a healthy diet plays a huge role in maintaining good mental health. Eating well can also help our elderly to promote mental acumen, increase energy level, and improve immunity.


Colourful fruits and vegetables such as blueberries, tomatoes, and apples contain high antioxidant content that can help to reduce the risk of depression. Ample protein consumption such as meats, fish, eggs, and beans also help to produce Tryptophan, which helps to make Serotonin, our happy hormone.



Seniors should also limit food intake that is highly processed with sugar and food that has refined carbohydrates as well as alcohol since they are the factors that affect mental health.


Every meal must be balanced out with good fats, protein, and fruits and vegetables to provide sufficient nutrients that the body needs.


Conclusion


Successful aging comes from staying mentally fit and leading a fulfilling lifestyle in your golden years. That being said, encourage your loved ones to have an active and healthy lifestyle to maintain not only physically, but also mentally well.


References

  1. How Social Connections Keep Seniors Healthy. (2014). Greater Good. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_social_connections_keep_seniors_healthy

2. Never Too Late for Elderly to Start Exercising. (2021). HealthHub. https://www.healthhub.sg/live-healthy/883/never-too-late-to-start