Among the many health concerns for older Australians, mental health can often take a back seat. However, it's of huge importance to our day-to-day wellbeing.
You might feel like you're from a generation where mental health concerns were swept under the carpet and you just 'got on with things'. But there's no time like the present to take stock and care of your state of mind.
Here are some tips from our team of aged carers on keeping a positive outlook on life.
Find satisfaction in routine
The human brain takes comfort in predictability. Think of the things you like to get done in a week and try assigning them to a particular day. For example, Mondays is housework, Tuesdays is coffee with friends, Wednesday the library, Thursday markets, and so on.
Make it a mix of chores and leisure. Obviously, you'll want to have some flexibility. But you'll find a predictable rhythm gives structure to your week, and a healthy sense of satisfaction when you've completed those regular tasks.
Have things to look forward to
Think ahead and plan some enjoyable activities in advance. There's actually a lot of pleasure to be had from the mere anticipation of occasions like holidays, social events, day trips and entertainment like movies and theatre. It's almost like you get to enjoy it twice: once in the planning, and once in the doing.
Enjoy the comfort and dignity of staying in your own home
At MMACG, we offer aged care services at home that help older South Australians stay in their own homes, for longer. Remaining in a familiar environment, surrounded by comforts and memories, helps many people maintain their mental wellbeing.
Make time for socialising
Our social needs are very individual. Some people thrive on maximum social interaction, whereas others are more comfortable with fewer and smaller gatherings. The fact remains though, that humans are social animals.
When older South Australians stay in their own houses, they don’t have the inbuilt social structure that retirement and aged care homes can provide. Therefore, it's important to seek out social interaction.
Regular social groups such as bridge clubs, reading clubs and fitness classes may introduce new social circles as well as providing mental stimulation. You might have regular visits with family members. Your local council is likely to provide services and social opportunities for seniors.
MMACG can also assist with regular errands, appointments and public outings, as well as our Kalleidescape social groups for regional residents. Ask us about how we can help you find a friendly face when you need one.
Enjoy the outdoors
Boosting your mood with a dose of the outdoors can be as simple as sitting in the garden, or as active as taking a hike. Natural sunlight has proven mental and physical health benefits, that include lifting your mood and helping your quality of sleep. Connection with nature can reconnect us all with a child-like sense of wonder and spark some delightful memories.
Bring some fresh flowers or foliage indoors for an extra touch of nature in your day. It might seem like a tiny gesture, but many small positive acts can add up to significant long-term impact.
Enjoy having a pet, if you’re able
It's no secret that pets can do wonders for human mental health. The joy of a dog or the companionship of a cat may be a great boost to your wellbeing, if your circumstances allow. By staying in your own place with the help of MMACG’s home care package, keeping your beloved pet or adopting a new one (perhaps a senior pet in need of a loving retirement home) can bring you daily joy.
Medicare access to psychological counselling
Your years of retirement and senior living could present some big life changes that leave mental challenges in their wake. It's not necessarily something that you 'just have to get over'. You deserve to enjoy these years to their fullest.
If your mood is affecting your quality of life, discuss your mental wellbeing with your GP. You may be eligible for Medicare-subsidised counselling with a psychologist.
Ultimately, your mental health deserves as much care as does your physical health. Daily mental self-care as well as professional check-ups and help when needed is the recipe for living to your best potential.
For urgent mental health concerns within South Australia, please contact:
The SA Health Mental Health Triage Service on 13 14 65, 24/7.
This support line is:
- Staffed by mental health clinicians
- Can provide advice and information in a mental health emergency or crisis situation
- Will assess and refer to acute response teams where appropriate
- The main point of access to state funded mental health services.
If you or a loved one have serious mental health concerns, please don’t delay speaking with your GP or specialist.
Reach out to us today to discuss how to access a home care package and look forward to many enriching years ahead.
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