May Isn’t Only for Mental Health Awareness, It’s About Family Wellness Too Isn’t Only for Mental Health Awareness, It’s About Family Wellness Too

You may already know that the month of May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a time to focus on the importance of mental health and to promote awareness, more education, and support for those living with mental illness or concerns about mental health challenges. However, May is actually not just about mental health awareness, it’s about family wellness as well. 

May is Family Wellness Month and it means exactly as it sounds. Mental health and overall wellness are especially important for seniors as they may face unique challenges that can impact their emotional well-being from being far from family, long-distance grandparents, and fluctuating lifestyle habits. 

Let’s talk about what these two points of awareness mean, why it’s important to celebrate them together, and why May is important for seniors.

Mental Health and Family Wellness Shouldn’t Be Ignored By Seniors

Mental health issues affect a significant portion of the senior population. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, around 20% of adults aged 55 or older experience some type of mental health concern. Depression and anxiety are two of the most common mental health concerns that usually affect seniors, but they are not the only ones. Other mental health issues that seniors may face could include schizophrenia or even dementia and all of this can connect back to family wellness. 

The point of this portion of May is to encourage families to communicate more and this should include interaction with seniors within a family. It’s also meant to encourage families to start making certain lifestyle changes. These changes should promote the emotional, mental, and physical health of the entire family and yes, this should include seniors. Depression is a common mental health issue among seniors and fluctuations in family ties can contribute to this. Depression can also be caused by a variety of other factors, including chronic illness, physical disabilities, and social isolation all of which should be accompanied by help and support from family. 

Anxiety is also prevalent among the older adult population, especially those who are experiencing significant life changes such as retirement or the loss of a loved one, or even the loss of their independence. These conditions can have a significant impact on a senior’s quality of life and can lead to a decline in both physical and mental health.

Supporting Mental and Emotional Well-being With Better Family Wellness

Family Wellness Month recognizes that mental and emotional well-being is integral to leading a fulfilling life. For seniors, who may experience feelings of loneliness, loss, or anxiety, the emotional support of their families is crucial. Spending quality time together, engaging in meaningful conversations, and actively listening to seniors can contribute to their mental well-being and provide a sense of companionship.

Additionally, participating in activities that stimulate the mind, such as puzzles, board games, or even storytelling, can enhance cognitive abilities and memory retention. All of these things are also good options for bringing families closer together. This month serves as a reminder to families to prioritize mental and emotional health, helping seniors maintain a positive outlook and reducing the risk of cognitive decline.

Pay Attention to Your Mental Health This Month

While mental and family wellness can be hard to navigate, especially if you aren’t sure where to start or you feel as though you’re in it alone, the good news is that there are a few simple steps that seniors can take to protect and strengthen their mental health as well as their family ties. To boost their emotional well-being which can affect everything else, try some of these tips:

Stay Connected With Loved Ones

Social isolation can be a major contributor to mental health issues in seniors and this can directly impact relationships with both family and friends. Stay connected with friends and family members, even if it’s just through phone calls or video chats. Doing this can enhance your mental health, boost your ability to focus and communicate, and give you things to look forward to as well as people to share points of your life with.

Stay Physically Active

Exercise has been shown to have a positive impact on mental health, including reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety. Seniors should aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day, such as walking, biking, or swimming and the good thing is, these are all things that can be done with the grandchildren, friends, or even neighbors making physical activity a good way to start new friendships and relationships.

Practice Relaxation Techniques

Stress can take a toll on mental health and it can affect how you interact with your family. Seniors can benefit from practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga, and if you’re a long-distance grandparent, use some of these techniques to start a new method of fun from far apart. Something as simple as this can help clear your mind and enhance the way you respond to certain things and people.

Start Eating A Healthy Diet

A healthy diet can help support mental health and it also creates an opportunity to bond over something. Seniors should aim to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats, and believe it or not, switching up your diet can significantly change the way you feel and your physical energy

There’s Nothing More Important Than Mental Health and Family Wellness

May is meant for both Mental Health Awareness and Family Wellness. It’s important for seniors to prioritize their mental health and strengthen family ties. By staying connected with loved ones, staying physically active, practicing relaxation techniques, and forming relationships with loved ones, seniors can help protect and strengthen their emotional well-being and their connections with their families.

 If you or a loved one is experiencing mental health concerns, don’t hesitate to seek help from a healthcare professional, a close family member or friend, or an advocate that specifically works with seniors.