May is Mental Health Month! Mental health is an important part of our general wellness, but it’s especially important during Covid as many people are isolated. In an average year, 20% of people age 55 and over report experiencing mental distress.
What mental illnesses affect older adults?
- Mood disorders (e.g., Bipolar Disorder)
- Alzheimer’s Disease
What warning signs should I keep an eye out for?
- Memory issues
- Decline in hygiene
- Change in appetite
- Becoming withdrawn
- Mood swings or changes in mood
How can I take care of my mental health?
- Schedule social events (e.g., phone calls, Zoom gatherings) to stay connected socially
- Learn mindfulness or meditation to calm anxious thoughts. Headspace offers a collection of free meditations for Michigan residents. Visit Washtenaw County’s homepage for more mindfulness resources.
- Try a gratitude journal to train yourself to frame things in a positive way.
- Take care of your body by getting enough rest, eating a well-balanced diet, and staying active.
- Don’t dismiss potential mental illness symptoms (e.g., feeling depressed, poor memory) as a normal part of aging.
- Don’t be afraid to reach out for support. AARP has a great article on finding a therapist. Another great resource is Psychology Today’s Therapist Finder.
Visit the Ahead of the Curve Senior Resource Directory for information on mental health resources in your area. The National Coalition on Mental Health and Aging also offers a great list of resources.