4 Tips For Looking After Your Aging Loved One's Mental Health

While millennials have shown increasing awareness and care for their mental health in recent decades, unfortunately the same can’t be said for mental health in elderly Australians. According to the WHO, mental health problems in elderly people are under-identified by health professionals and older people themselves, who are often reluctant to seek help due to a pervasive stigma around psychological conditions. Mental health in the elderly is an important issue, so if you’re caring for an aging parent or loved one, you should make a concerted effort to encourage a healthy mind.

Here are four key tips for looking after your aging loved one’s mental health:

Keep your parent fit and active

Mental and physical health are two sides of the same coin, in that failure to look after the one will usually have drastic effects on the other.  According to research by Sane Australia, fear of physical decline is the greatest concern of most older Australians. This has significant implications for mental wellbeing, as reduced activity and involvement can easily lead to feelings of grief and loss. This, in turn, can increase the chance of developing clinical depression. Aged care residences like Regents Garden give residents ample opportunity to exercise and stay physically fit, with health and wellness facilities and personal trainers. 

Talk and listen to them regularly

Being able to hold a steady conversation is a sign of a healthy and attentive mind. Try to make time in the day to catch up and discuss how your parent is doing, what they think of current events, and possibly even to share a gossipy tale or two. When talking, though, make sure never to come across as condescending or annoyed. If someone feels like a burden or that they’re being ignored, talked over, or looked down upon, they’re less likely to sustain confidence and resilience in their mental faculties.

Encourage your loved one to socialise

Loneliness and isolation are dangerous for a person’s mental health no matter how old they are. After all, people who live in extremely isolated environments, like researchers in the Antarctic, have reported that the most difficult part of their job is dealing with the immense loneliness. As your parent gets older, they’re more likely to find themselves socially isolated – either from their friends passing away, or simply losing touch with acquaintances. This is why it’s so important for them to maintain an active and healthy social life. To help with this, look for social events and activities they might be interested in, and then suggest it to them in a friendly and encouraging manner. Socialisation is actually one of the main benefits of retirement communities like Regents Garden, as elderly Australians like your parent can mingle and make friends with like-minded peers.

Be on the lookout for memory loss

While it’s perfectly normal to forget things or become disoriented now and then, if your parent is doing so regularly it may indicate an underlying condition. Because so many mental illnesses share symptoms, it can be difficult to know if a single condition is at fault. For instance, according to a paper released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, dementia and depression can be difficult to distinguish from each other when they occur at the same time, as they both lead to problems with memory and concentration. If you notice a pattern of forgetfulness that seems to be getting worse, or if your parent regularly struggles to recognise friends and family, then it’s worth getting a professional opinion.

With a socially engaging environment and trained mental health professionals on-site, you can rest assured that we at Regents Garden understand the mental health needs of your parent and their generation. To see our unique approach to aged care in Perth, feel free to schedule a visit by clicking here. We’ve also created a helpful guide for anyone who’s caring for an aging parent at home. You can download your free copy by clicking here.