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Mental Health Awareness Month – May 2023

May is mental health awareness month, and many people may not realize how much of an issue mental health is for seniors.

  1. 20% of people age 55 or older have some type of mental health concern.
  2. People between 50-80 suffered worsened mental health during the pandemic.

The good news? 87% of people 50-80 years old are comfortable talking about mental health. The four Traditions senior living communities of Cincinnati are offering tips for supporting mental health for seniors.

  1. What seniors eat - Colorful fruits and vegetables such as apples, tomatoes, red peppers, blueberries, etc., have higher antioxidant content, which in turn has been found to lower the rates of depression. Adequate protein consumption with every meal has also been linked to adequate tryptophan production, producing serotonin, the ‘happiness hormone.’ Healthy fats and B vitamins also play a positive role, while foods like sugary drinks and refined carbs can negatively affect mental health.
  2. How seniors eat – Check on the dining habits of senior citizens. Too many seniors are isolated and eat alone or not at all, even though dining is one of the best socialization opportunities, boosting mental health. Food enjoyment also brings physical and emotional benefits.
  3. Exercise – Exercise can promote mental health in seniors. All ages can benefit from moving around, especially as opposed to sedentary activity like watching TV.
  4. Address isolation – Post-COVID, more people are moving into senior living communities to move away from isolation. Seniors who hang on to their independence for too long can become prisoners in their own homes.
  5. Accept help – Adult children who let others provide care, can enjoy more time with their loved one, bringing mental health benefits for both. There is a reason community staff work in shifts – caregiving can be exhausting. Shift back to being the son or daughter.
  6. Become educated – Families who know more about senior mental health can avoid inadvertently causing harm, while bringing reassurance to themselves and their loved one.

Our Regional Clinical Specialist, Rebecca Harness, RN, CDP visited FOX 19 in Cincinnati to talk about the importance of mental health for seniors.