While all adults –regardless of age– face daily life stressors, mental wellbeing can change at different stages of life. Still, older adults face unique physical and mental challenges. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the population aged 60+ is projected to double from 12% to 22% by 2050. WHO also projects that over 20% of adults aged 60+ will suffer from a mental or neurological disorder at some point in their lifetime.
The enactment of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010 created Ten Essential Health Benefits, which includes coverage of mental health services, preventative care and wellness services, and prescription drugs.
Education and support is available for seniors to learn preventative measures and health management options to manage their mental health. Natural remedies such as exercise and meditation, as well as medication prescribed by a physician can vastly improve mental wellness. A supportive community can also assist in successfully managing this growing health issue.
Acknowledging a change in a family member, friend, or your own physical or emotional wellbeing is the first step in identifying the need for support. Mental health resources are available throughout Santa Clara County. Older adults can ease loneliness and isolation by visiting local senior centers to participate in recreational activities and lunch programs.
The National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) offers free support groups to help families deal with mental health challenges. Health care providers also have resources to help manage physical and mental health needs; start by having an honest conversation with your doctor about how you are feeling.
Pay attention to both your physical and mental health; difficulties in one area can affect the other. Taking preventative measures and managing your mental and physical needs may help you become happier and healthier.