Mental health impacts every facet of your daily life. If you don’t take care of…
A study on mental health among people 55 and older conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that approximately 20% of seniors are affected by various mental health issues. The most prevalent conditions are severe cognitive impairment, anxiety disorders, and mood disorders, including depression or bipolar depression.
In this context, nurses are vital in promoting and supporting mental health in senior adults. Their knowledge and person-centered care can greatly enhance the quality of life for older individuals.
This article analyses six effective strategies that nurses can adopt to create resilience, emotional well-being, and a sense of purpose in the lives of older citizens.
- Professional Assistance and Counseling
Caring for senior adults can be challenging as they often exhibit impatience, unresponsiveness, and quick temperaments. In addition, the presence of debilitating pain, long-term illnesses, and mental health issues in older people may further exacerbate their depressed moods, resulting in hopelessness and despair.
Therefore, looking after senior adults necessitates nurses with the skills and expertise to remain composed in the presence of elderly patients and actively engage them in activities that boost their self-esteem and general well-being.
To acquire the knowledge and expertise needed to assess, diagnose, and care for patients facing mental health challenges. Aspiring nurses can opt for an online BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) program. As an online student, you can access course materials and lectures at your convenience. The coursework involves in-depth studies of medical and nursing theories, principles, and practices. This program also helps you become familiar with the legal, ethical, and professional aspects of nursing. Caring for elderly adults also requires nurses to be well-versed in providing physical and emotional support and counseling.
- Promote Reading
Engaging in reading provides numerous benefits for individuals across all age groups. However, it is especially valuable for older adults as reading provides an enjoyable pastime that simultaneously stimulates the brain. As a nurse, you have the chance to motivate your senior patients to integrate reading into their routine, procuring the benefits it brings.
Reading regularly improves memory and retention, lowers stress, and slows cognitive aging. Furthermore, indulging in a good book before bed improves sleep quality.
Your patients can look into various options, such as reading books and magazines in print, using e-readers, or listening to audiobooks online. You can also organize weekly book club meetings for friends and family, creating a setting where seniors can enjoy reading and interact with others.
- Encourage Physical Activity
Regular exercise has been found to provide a variety of advantages for mental health. Depending on their skills and interests, you can encourage and direct elderly individuals to participate in suitable physical activities.
One way to encourage physical activity is to suggest exercises appropriate for older persons and can be altered to fit their physical capacities, such as walking, gentle exercises, yoga, or tai chi. In addition, you can educate patients about the positive effects of physical activity on mental health, including reducing depression and anxiety symptoms, enhancement of mood, and improvement in cognitive function.
Moreover, as their healthcare provider, you can inform elderly citizens about the need to maintain physical activity and assist them in setting attainable objectives and developing individualized exercise programs. Remember to offer guidance on proper techniques and precautions, ensuring participants' safety while exercising.
- Indulge in Art Therapy
A fantastic way for people to express their creativity and find comfort in difficult times is via art therapy. As a nurse, it is essential to emphasize the numerous advantages of art therapy.
For those living with dementia, their confidence and self-reliance may become diminished as they increasingly rely on assistance from their families, even for simple tasks. This dependence frequently causes a loss of self-confidence and a feeling of inadequacy.
Therefore, it is crucial to motivate people to rediscover their confidence by partaking in creative pursuits like scrapbooking. Scrapbooking not only improves dexterity but also acts as a beneficial kind of mental diversion. Additionally, it has been demonstrated that art therapy improves cognition and lowers blood pressure.
- Play Brain Games
By including such tasks in their daily schedule, senior adults stay active all day, promoting better sleep patterns at night and, ultimately, a healthier lifestyle.
The brain needs stimulation to stay sharp and prevent cognitive decline as we age, just as physical exercise and stimulation are crucial for preserving the body's health. According to Harvard Health Publishing, playing brain games can significantly improve cognitive abilities, including short-term memory, planning skills, response time, and processing speed.
Brain health is influenced by any activity that actively engages the mind and requires problem-solving. Fortunately, seniors can engage in various popular and easily accessible activities, like:
- Engaging in language learning: Learning a new language involves activating brain regions often impacted by aging. As a result, it builds confidence and provides opportunities for increased socialization with others who may share the same language-learning journey.
- Exploring musical instruments: Playing an instrument stimulates the brain and has been shown to improve memory in seniors with Alzheimer's and dementia. According to The Washington Post, playing or learning an instrument is enjoyable and can improve verbal fluency and processing speed within a relatively short period.
- Indulging in puzzles and games: Aside from being enjoyable, various puzzles have been found to delay memory decline and promote mental well-being among seniors. Engaging in puzzles is a source of entertainment and contributes to preserving cognitive function.
- Socialize More
Since social isolation and loneliness can negatively affect mental health, enhancing social engagement and cultivating a feeling of belonging is essential.
You can plan and lead social gatherings for older citizens to interact with their peers and develop lasting relationships within the care facility, such as outings, game evenings, or interest groups. These activities foster a sense of solidarity and community while offering socializing opportunities.
Furthermore, you can expand their network by linking them to external resources, community organizations, senior centers, or support groups where they can participate in events and programs tailored to their interests. This can include book clubs, exercise classes, art workshops, or volunteer opportunities.
Each individual is unique, with their own preferences and interests. What may be relevant and exciting for one senior may hold a different appeal for another. Therefore, a crucial aspect of providing purposeful activities for seniors is understanding what truly matters to each individual. Engaging in multiple conversations with the senior is essential to uncover what truly brings them joy. By discussing their preferences and interests, you can collaboratively determine the most enjoyable activities that promote their mental health. Remember to adopt a friendly demeanor, provide a safe space, and show empathy throughout your journey of caretaking.