Taking Control: Quality-of-Life Tips for Seniors

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It’s hard to maintain good mental and physical health if your quality of life is subpar. Unfortunately, that’s the dilemma seniors sometimes face. A lack of adequate physical and mental activity is debilitating, and keeps older adults from doing many of the things they enjoy. Consequently, depression may settle in with all its damaging symptoms, often followed by a sharp decline in overall health. Taking control of your well-being means being willing to try new things and seek help for problems that are holding you back.

Attack your depression

Depression affects about 6 million Americans over age 65 according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, though just 10 percent of those individuals receive the treatment they need to feel better. Depression often goes undiagnosed in older adults (many of whom simply fail to seek help), so recognizing the signs becomes very important. Lethargy, confusion, loss of appetite, and a lack of interest in social interaction are just a few of the indications that depression has taken hold, making it difficult to achieve and enjoy a healthy quality of life.

Isolation and feeling unengaged can have a profoundly negative effect on seniors. The solution is to find ways to stay involved with the people around you. Sometimes, starting with simple activities is enough to raise your energy level and help you feel motivated. Offer to help loved ones by folding laundry, organizing closets and drawers, sorting the mail, making out grocery lists, and helping prepare dinner each night. It’ll lead to more extensive activities and, before you know it, you’ll be living the life you want.

Socialize

Make a point of spending time with friends and doing things you and your pals can enjoy together, like playing music. Consider playing an instrument or picking up where you left off with one years ago. For example, take saxophone lessons online or with a local instructor. If you’re new to music, be aware that there are many different kinds of saxophones (as well as other instruments), so do some research online before deciding on a purchase.

It’s also fun to learn a foreign language with friends who can encourage and motivate you. Make a point of dining with friends and family, and investigate opportunities to volunteer at a local church or with a philanthropic organization. Like exercise, volunteering helps older adults fight off anxiety and depression, and stay mentally and physically active in a way that’s fun and fulfilling.

Manageable exercise

Physical activity is always important no matter what age you are. It gets the blood pumping and keeps your brain active. If you’ve been leading a sedentary life, start out with some low-impact exercise, such as chair yoga, water aerobics and other activities you can enjoy with friends, such as golf. Of course, always talk to your doctor if you’re considering starting a new exercise program.

Another way to stay active is by performing chores or maintenance work around the house. However, be aware that taking on certain projects—such as cleaning the entire house, mowing the lawn, and landscaping—may be more harmful than good for older adults. For these instances, contact a few professional services and get estimates, which vary depending on location. You could spend between $116 and $228 on a cleaning service if you live in Woodland Hills, CA, for example.

Brain games

Exercise and socialization are super healthy for seniors, but there are times when you need to entertain yourself with beneficial mental activities. Play Sudoku, complete crossword puzzles online and do plenty of reading, a great form of mental exercise for anyone. If you enjoy discussing books with friends, why not start a book club and turn your meetings into regular social occasions?

Maintaining a positive outlook can help older adults feel more energetic, stay active and stave off the effects of depression. Being assertive about your quality of life will help keep your energy level up while preventing cognitive and memory problems that often result from isolation and inactivity.

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