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  health, aging

Mental and social health are just as important as physical health when aging

There is one thing you have to accept: the longer you live, the more you lose. Mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety affect one’s physical health especially in older adulthood. The changes that often come in later life—retirement, the loss of the loved ones, moving out of the family home, increased isolation, medical problems—can lead to depression. When facing major challenges, focus on the things you can control. Depression prevents you from enjoying life like you used to. But the effects go far beyond mood. It also impacts the energy, sleep, appetite, and physical health of the elderly. However, depression is not an inevitable part of aging, and there are many ways to overcome the symptoms, no matter the challenges you face. A key ingredient in the recipe for healthy aging is the continuing ability to find meaning and joy in life.

Fifty shades of blue

Depression is a common problem in older adults. It is important to recognise the signs and find a treatment that works. The symptoms of depression affect every aspect of life, including sleep, energy, appetite, and interest in work, hobbies or relationships. The feelings of isolation, helplessness and hopelessness are also common, and these can easily contribute to health problems other than depression, such as physical disability, chronic or severe pain, heart disease or cognitive decline.

But you should feel good as you age. You have to deal with the underlying causes of depression since it is not a sign of weakness, and ageing do not have to keep you down. As you age, you experience loss: a loss of someone you love, a loss of health, mobility or work. Processing and getting over these changes is hard and time consuming. Give yourself enough time to grief. If you manage to find the right support or a viable self-help strategy, you can feel better and live a happy and vibrant life.

Coping with the stressors

It is never too late to try new things, learn new skills or change your lifestyle. Overcoming depression often involves finding new things to enjoy, learning to adapt to change, staying physically and socially active, and feeling connected to your community and loved ones. The more active you are––mentally, socially and physically––the better you will feel.

Exercise is of vital importance for the elderly. You do not necessarily have to spend your afternoons in the rocking chair, you should rather keep yourself strong and flexible in your “golden years” with regular physical activity. Even low- to moderate-intensity walking can have both short- and long-term health benefits. It improves endurance and increases muscle tone in your legs. In order to minimize the risk of injury, ask our physiotherapists to help you pick safe exercises and design an ideal fitness program. You will want to start slowly and gradually increase intensity as you grow stronger, avoiding activities that aggravate or cause pain. While you need to use caution and avoid starting out too intensely, you do need to exercise at a level that is challenging to your body or the benefits will be lost. Ideally your fitness program should be comprehensive, providing the necessary balance-training activities for stability while also improving your strength, flexibility, cardiovascular fitness and fat-burning capabilities.

Bring your life into balance with our weekly yoga sessions. Whether for a better posture, better health, or just for fun, at home or in a gym, indoors or outdoors, alone or in a group, yoga is a great method to regain your health, tone your muscles, and feel good. Give yourself an energy boost, help build bone mass, and de-stress.

Connect with others and take care of your support network. Even broaden it, if possible. If you can not get out to socialise, invite loved ones to visit you, or keep in touch over the phone or any social network. And remember, it is never too late to build new friendships. Join a club, a support group––simply try to find people with similar interests.

And one more important tip: do not forget to maintain a healthy diet. Avoid eating too much sugar and junk food. Choose healthy foods that provide nourishment and energy, and take a daily multivitamin. Now it is time to take control of your health. The more active you are the more mobile, independent and, likely, happy you will be as you get older. Whatever you choose, make sure you participate in activities you fully enjoy.