How to stay mentally healthy as you age

Agassiz Community Health Centre hosts a session February 24 on mental health for seniors

Following a very successful January roundtable discussion for seniors about how to stay healthy in the senior years, the Agassiz Community Health Centre will be hosting a second session on Tuesday, Feb. 24 from 5-6 p.m. The location for this event will be at the District of Kent Community Recreation & Cultural Centre at 6660 Pioneer Avenue. In attendance will be Dr. I. Fadyeyeva, R. Stam (R.N.) and mental health professionals. The focus this month will be how to stay mentally healthy as you age.

Good health includes both physical and mental well-being; the two go hand in hand. A healthy mind contributes to a healthy body. The mind, like the body, benefits from normal blood pressure, low cholesterol, nourishing food, a healthy weight and physical activity.  However, as pointed out by Mental Health Canada, having good mental health throughout life does not ensure immunity from severe depression, dementias, anxiety disorders and other disorders in the senior years of life. In fact, some studies show that elderly people are at greater risk of mental disorders and their complications than are younger people.

As people age, certain changes in mental abilities are inevitable but other changes are not normal characteristics of aging and can indicate an illness. Some of the warning signs are: depressed mood or sadness lasting longer than two weeks; loss of interest or pleasure in the people and things previously enjoyable; decreased ability to think, concentrate or make decisions; confusion or disorientation; social withdrawal; feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness or helplessness; memory loss of recent events; tiredness, lethargy, fatigue or loss of energy; jumpiness, irritability or quarrelsomeness; repeated thoughts of death or suicide, and so on.

Some of the factors triggered these changes might be: physical disability, physical illness, a change in environment such as moving into a new home, loss or illness of a loved one, a combination of medications, drug-alcohol interactions, alcohol or drug abuse or misuse and poor diet.

Today, increasing numbers of individuals are reaching extreme old age while maintaining good health and functional status. Unfortunately, for any number of reasons, some seniors are reluctant to seek professional treatment which could cure or alleviate their symptoms and return them to their previous level of functioning. It is important to remember that noticeable changes in an older person’s behaviour or moods should not be ignored. These changes could be symptoms of conditions for which help from a family physician is available.

February 24 will be an excellent opportunity for seniors to interact with community professionals about staying mentally healthy and gathering more information about those illnesses which impact mental health.

Submitted by Agassiz Community Health Centre