Psychologists: Use These Techniques to Boost Your Mental Health

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November 30, 2021

Psychologists: Use These Techniques to Boost Your Mental Health

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, many older people suffer from mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. Research has identified the highest-risk individuals as those who are dealing with a significant physical or cognitive decline and those who are grieving or dealing with multiple losses. The way that seniors perceive, process and talk about these questions can play an important role in boosting their emotional well-being.

Similarly, older people who struggle to find meaning in their lives also fall under the high-risk category for these issues. Concerns about finding meaning may include questions such as, ‘Have I led a meaningful life?’ or what their legacy might be.

Psychologist Jelena Kecmanovic offers four approaches for better understanding these questions and improving one’s mental health. By engaging in “life review” and reminiscing about events in the past, older people create a more coherent understanding of their life’s purpose. Activities such as autobiographical writing, storytelling or scrapbooking can help.

Second, rather than attempting to grasp the abstract ‘meaning of life,’ seniors should focus on engaging with the meaningful activities that they currently do. By orienting their thoughts toward meaningful subjects, older people can gain clarity about what really matters. This meaning can also be found in other activities, such as making personal relationships, connecting with nature or creating art.

Third, Kecmanovic recommends accepting one’s limitations as they age. She distinguishes this acceptance from giving up. For older adults struggling with physical or cognitive limitations, focusing on the things they can still do provides a sense of purpose and control.

Finally, seniors are advised to deal with their death anxiety, rather than avoiding the topic. This takes the form of reading obituaries, visiting cemeteries or attending funerals. By arranging one’s will ahead of time, seniors also gain a sense of dignity and control in providing a gift for the ones they leave behind.

“Mental health is such an important part of overall health,” said Joseph Peters, Jr., Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. “Older people need to pay attention to their mental health and seek professional treatment when they need help.”

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