Moger: Seniors taking care mentally

Some seniors struggle from time to time with mental illness and depression.

According to Health Canada, older Canadians are healthier, more affluent, and living longer and more independent lives than ever before.

Seniors are physically more active and are engaged with their families and their communities. They are challenging many of the negative stereotypes we hold about aging and showing us that life is for living with vigour and vitality.

But it is also true that some seniors struggle from time to time with mental illness and depression.

For seniors living in the community, it is estimated that five per cent to 10 per cent will experience a depressive disorder that is serious enough to require treatment. And the rate of anxiety and depression dramatically increases to between 30 per cent and 40 per cent for seniors living in institutions.

Feeling sad is normal, it’s a temporary feeling that comes and goes. Depression is more severe and lasts longer. It can leave you feeling hopeless helpless and worthless.Depression in seniors is often the result of chronic health conditions, the recent passing of a loved one, fear of death, living alone, frustration over the inability to do the things they once did, and loss of independence and control over their lives.

Some who battle depression may have a hard time thinking positively and tend to be excessively critical and think untrue things about themselves. Therefore it is very important to challenge your automatic negative thoughts and focus on the positive. Sometimes making a list of some of the good or positive events in your life or doing something for someone else can be good for your self-esteem and distract you from your own problems.

Often when you’re feeling down the tendency is to isolate yourself and restricted activity which is the worst thing to do. Maintaining and increasing activity is one of the best antidotes for depression. You may not always feel up to it, but making a deliberate effort to plan pleasurable activities is the best thing you can do.

A few self-help ideas are going for a nature walk, joining a social club, watching a funny movie, getting a massage or taking a hot bath. Whatever you find pleasurable will help lift your spirit. Exercise lifts depression and negative moods, but depression can prevent individuals from participating successfully in an exercise program. Depressed people will often complain they feel too tired to exercise, but the feelings of fatigue associated with depression are not due to physical exhaustion.

Start out with 20 to 30 minutes a day of some sort of exercise or activity you enjoy and once you get yourself moving you may find you have more energy and feel better?

It may take time to feel better don’t be discouraged. If some of self-help strategies are not helping, it’s important you see your family doctor. If depression is not managed, it can compromise the treatment of other conditions and can increase the risk of prolonged disability.