As we were researching good resources on depression in elders, we came across some useful information from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). You can find their Depression and Older Adults: Key Issues booklet regarding Treatment of Depression at this link.
In this booklet, they shared these important factors for “successful aging”:
- A positive attitude, realistic perspective, and the ability to adapt to change (for example, humor, altruism,and anticipation).
- Security and stability in living environment, financial resources, and social support (for example, spouse, family, and friends).
- Health and wellness, including prevention of disease and disease-related disability, maintenance of high cognitive and physical function, healthy exercise and nutrition, the absence of smoking, high quality health care, the ability to manage stress, and minimal pain.
- Active engagement with life, including being socially involved, participating in stimulating activities, learning, feeling a sense of purpose in life, and being useful to others and to society.
Other factors that research has shown predict good outcomes for old age include more years of education, healthy weight, good physical health at age 50, and the absence of alcohol abuse or a depressive disorder.
What You Can Do
While some of these factors may be difficult for the individual to control, many are within our power to influence. A healthy lifestyle and good preventative care can impact health and functioning. Family and friends can encourage active participation in activities and offer a strong social network. Modeling a positive attitude and using humor to deal with your own challenges can help someone to use these tools in his/her own life. Here are some steps you can take to promote successful aging (for you or someone you care about):
- Take advantage of preventative health care screenings covered by Medicare. Help a friend/loved one make appointments; provide rides to the doctor.
- Get some exercise every day, even if it is a short walk or stretching/chair exercises. Consider hiring a personal trainer that specializes in older adults. Visit our post on active aging/exercise for our local recommendation and some other great exercise resources.
- Keep your mind engaged. Do puzzles, read/discuss articles or books, stay updated on current events, play computer games (there are even some specially designed to help with cognitive abilities), volunteer. Let your elder loved ones know they are valued: ask for advice and input, have them share their stories and family history, sign up to do volunteer work together. Consider taking a class at your senior center or local college (right here in St. Pete, we have Eckerd’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and now you can find a lot of learning options online too). Now’s a great time in life to explore a subject that always interested you, take up a new language or become part of the information age with a computer class.
- Your financial circumstances may be what they are, but good planning and budgeting can help. Make sure you understand insurance options and health/care costs; understand your spending versus resources. Get all of your important paperwork organized (or help your loved one do so).
- “Age proof” your home to ensure safety and give you some control over “aging in place”. Complete our falls prevention checklist or get a professional geriatric care management home safety assessment from our team. Always make sure you prepare carefully for hurricane season. And, consider getting a little bit of household help before things become too overwhelming. All of this can help you to age in your own home safely. Additionally (or alternatively), check in to retirement communities and assisted living options so you can make an informed decision about what is best for you.
- Keep an eye out for signs of depression or substance abuse in friends/loved ones, especially if the person has a family or personal history. If you notice major changes in routine, withdrawal from activities or changes in personality, something may be wrong. If you are concerned, you can find various articles with symptoms, resources and how to help by searching “depression” on our blog…and please do not hesitate to contact us for help.
EasyLiving’s goal is to ensure that age, disease or disability does not affect our clients’ quality of life. We’re here to help support you in successful, active aging! Call us at 727-447-5845 to find out how we can help!