6 Mood Boosters for Seniors

May is observed as National Mental Health Month and Older Americans Month, which presents an opportunity to raise awareness for the behavioral health and wellness of our senior community. According to a recent study by the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 31% of older adults had depression symptoms that significantly impacted their lives and 27% met the criteria for a diagnosis of major depression.

Depression in seniors is more likely to be underdiagnosed and undertreated, most likely due to an antiquated thought that depression is a normal part of aging. In fact, depression can affect anyone at any age and can lead to overall poorer health if left untreated. Depression is common and treatable, and when identified early on, it is easier to reverse the symptoms.

Being able to recognize various signs of depression and identify risk factors will support you or your loved one’s path to better overall wellness. If you feel that you or your loved one may be experiencing symptoms of depression, speak to your primary care doctor who will help coordinate specialized mental health services and a treatment plan.

Mental Health America offers an easy and confidential online depression screening tool that can provide quick insight of your mental health. Additionally, the following are among the most common risk factors for senior depression:

  • Medical illness, especially chronic health conditions
  • Progressive sensory loss (hearing loss or worsening eyesight) 
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Medication side effects
  • Dementia
  • Grief and extended mourning
  • Not having a close social network

Related: Top 5 FAQs about Depression in Seniors

As we age, it is important to find ways to improve our moods and to help counter the risks of depression. The following six mood boosters can often brighten anyone’s day, reduce stress—and play an especially important role in senior wellness:

  • Exercise – Not only a great mood booster, but low-impact exercise that are gentler on joints and muscles like walking or biking can improve overall physical health. All of our senior care communities offer terrific exercise programs crafted for older adults.
  • Eat Right – We all know that eating fruits and vegetables is essential to a healthy diet, but adding in a sweet treat from time to time is not only enjoyable but has positive health rewards. Dark chocolate can improve mood, memory, immunity and reduce stress and inflammation!
    Stay Connected – Keeping in touch with friends and family can help combat feelings of loneliness and isolation. For many, moving to a retirement community is a way to make new friends and ensure a strong social network. 
  • Play Games – Cards, puzzles and board games not only help to improve mental health and memory, but offer an opportunity to connect with others and strengthen friendships. Solitary games also play an important role in increasing brain power of older adults.
  • Pet Therapy – Pets provide comfort and joy to our senior friends. Many senior care communities, like Concordia at Sumner, regularly bring certified therapy and emotional support animals as clinical studies have supported the positive health benefits of pet therapy.
  • Volunteer – Volunteering and finding ways to give back just makes you feel good! The act can increase your self-confidence, reduce stress and provide a sense of meaning and purpose.

Related: How Concordia’s Volunteers Support Our Mission

For many seniors, loneliness and a lack of social interactions are reasons for considering a move to a personal care, assisted living or retirement community. Do you have questions about Concordia or are interested in how we can help you and your loved one? If so, please contact us any time via our online contact form or by calling our administrative headquarters at 724-352-1571.

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