As our population ages, we recognize that mental health is important at every age and stage of life. Older adults may experience certain life changes that impact their mental health, such as coping with a serious illness or losing a loved one — and while some may adapt with those life changes, others may find themselves struggling in different ways.
Managing your mental health as an older adult can help improve the quality of life. At any age, recognizing the signs of mental illness — such as a noticeable change in mood or appetite, feeling emotionless, difficulty concentrating and more — and seeing a health care provider are the first steps to getting treatment. We can also care for our mental health by:
- Staying active: Physical activity is necessary at all ages, and older adults should use these four ways as a guide to staying fit and healthy.
- Staying involved and connected to your community: Volunteering, making positive contributions, joining groups, or being part of a club can help older adults maintain imperative social connections.
- Keep your brain active: Our brains change as we age, which is why it’s more important than ever to exercise your brain to learn new skills, form new memories and improve vocabulary and language skills.
- Seek help when you need it: Depression is not a normal part of growing older — however, it is a true and treatable condition at any age. Older adults are at an increased risk for experiencing depression, but there is help available. Most older adults see an improvement in their symptoms when treated with anti-depression medications, psychotherapy, or a combination of both. If you are unsure where to go for help, ask a healthcare provider or visit NIMH’s Help for Mental Illnesses.