Understanding Senior Depression
In order to optimize happiness in retirement and avoid senior depression, it’s important to understand the unique difficulties the elderly community faces. As we get older, we are more likely to live alone and feel isolated. Friends, family and neighbors have moved, and the landscapes around us have changed. We are also more likely to deal with physical and mental ailments.
Depending on the study, it’s estimated that up to almost 25% of seniors deal with or have dealt with senior depression. It can often be difficult to identify because the symptoms can be conflated with other mental and physical issues associated with aging.
Because depression can be left undiagnosed, it behooves seniors to combat depression proactively. It is also key to understand the difference between grief (which lasts for a limited time and is linked to a jarring event such as death or a move) and chronic depression. The following tactics will help you maintain a fulfilling life in retirement.
Make New Friends
As we get older, it is inevitable our social landscape will change. A recent study conducted at Michigan State University highlights how valuing friendships later in life correlated to overall improved mental and physical function even more than family. This is not to say family is not important, it is meant to highlight the truly powerful value of quality friendship.
As we grow older, our interests and abilities may change, but our need for a fulfilling social life does not. If you’re looking to make new friends in retirement, try taking a class, volunteering, joining a group or getting a part-time job. Keep yourself in environments where you’re stimulated and meeting new people—depression will have a harder time creeping in and affecting your mental and physical state.
Watch Your Nutrition and Be Active
Proper nutrition and physical activity are important at any age, but as we grow older, the problems associated with having poor nutrition and lackadaisical exercise habits can be significantly more hampering. Poor nutrition and low activity levels not only lead to a myriad of physical health issues like high blood pressure, brittle bones and increased risk of diabetes, they also increase the likelihood depression will take hold.
While you’re physically active, endorphins are released into the brain’s opioid receptors, causing you to feel euphoric. When you’re exercising effectively, you also stave off physical ailments that can lead to time away from activity and lead to more feelings of isolation.
Ensuring quality nutrition habits will not only help stave off illnesses such as diabetes and various forms of cancer, it will keep your brain functioning more powerfully and help regulate mood. This 2017 study found people with depression that adopted a better nutrition plan felt their symptoms improve. Check out this WebMD article to help you with your nutrition, but also …
Talk to Your Doctor
As we age, it becomes more important that we have regular check-ups with our doctors. Always keep your doctor in the loop! If you have a broken arm, you will obviously tell your doctor, so why not do the same for your brain? Your doctor will be able to assist you in gathering the resources you need to best take care of yourself, whether it be the right medication, the right diet or the right medical professional.
All in all, remain engaged with the world around you and you will be much less likely to suffer from senior depression. This can be difficult as your world changes, which is why independent living communities like Southgate at Shrewsbury provide residents with a bevy of activities and events to keep them engaged, active and happy. If you’re concerned about depression as you enter retirement, an independent living community might be the best option for you.