Many seniors I talk with are lonely or worry about loneliness. While it’s true living longer means you experience the loss of friends and loved ones, it doesn’t mean depression or isolation should take over your life. This is neither healthy or a needed side effect you should choose to embrace.
Loneliness or any other mental health condition can undermine your overall health, and contribute to other chronic health conditions, such as dementia. Do your best to resist withdrawing and stay involved in community activities.
Some people believe as you age it’s normal to get cranky, senile or forgetful - not true! If your mood is changing or you notice other symptoms, it’s possible there is another reason or cause for this behavior.
It is believed about two million people over the age of 65 live with some kind of depression. If you feel depressed, don’t wait to get help or think it’s just part of the aging process. Talk to someone who can help, especially a doctor who can diagnose and treat the cause of the depression.
So what is going on with our brains as we age? Learning new tasks or keeping up at the same mental pace may be harder to do, and that’s not uncommon. But severe memory problems are not considered normal and should be examined.
Depending on how much and what you are forgetting could be an early warning sign of Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. When you begin having memory issues in your daily life, speak with your doctor to find out what’s typical and what’s not.
Do our brains slow down or get smaller? Well, most scientists believe our brains do lose some mass, and there is nothing you can do about it. However, it’s not necessarily because of age.
Your daily healthcare choices play a vital role - too much stress, high blood pressure and diabetes, to name a few, can contribute to brain shrinkage, not age.
Here I’ll sound like a broken record if you read my columns regularly. Diet and exercise matter — even as you get older. The best way to prevent any chronic disease and enjoy life to the fullest is to take care of yourself. Stop smoking if you do, limit alcohol and avoid a sedentary lifestyle.
Yes, genetics can play a part in your mental health, but preventative measures can go a long way to help deter or keep illness away. The best thing you can do is communicate with your doctor if you suspect any changes in your memory, begin to feel lonely or depressed, or just want to ensure you’re doing all you can to stay mentally healthy!
For more information contact
Meadowcrest Family Physicians