Enjoying dinner with friends. Lively discussions in a book club. An impromptu chat with your neighbor while walking your dog. Social interactions like these are a vital aspect of a fulfilling life. Yet, so many older adults struggle with social isolation, which in turn can cause feelings of depression.
If you or a loved one is struggling with isolation and depression, ensure that you first speak with a medical professional, as depression is a serious condition. However, if you are looking for some additional lifestyle-related ways to cope, here are some suggestions.
The Link Between Isolation and Depression in Seniors
Seniors are more susceptible to depression due to a few contributing factors. Adult children and friends may move away, increasing isolation and resulting in a negative impact on one’s mental and physical health. Older adults are also more likely to experience health challenges. The CDC reports “80% of older adults have at least one chronic health condition.” Dealing with health-related problems, whether chronic or unexpected, can result in mobility changes that contribute to isolation.
There are also many social changes a senior can go through such as moving on from a beloved career or downsizing to a new home. Although older adults are highly resilient, experiencing a myriad of social and physical changes can be stressful and isolating, contributing to depression.
Ways To Overcome Depression and Isolation
Fortunately there are many ways to cope with or overcome isolation and depression. These strategies can help.
The concept of mindfulness promotes focusing only on the present instead of being preoccupied with the past or future; acknowledging physical sensations and thoughts without judgment, practicing gratitude, and shifting your mindset to focus more on the positive aspects of life. Mindfulness activities include meditation, yoga, journaling, chanting positive affirmations aloud, and practicing breathing exercises. Adding a few of these activities to your daily routine can help reduce stress and alleviate symptoms of depression.
Be Physically Active
When you dynamically move in aerobics class, embark on a morning walk , or workout at the gym, your body releases endorphins, also known as the “happy hormone.” As this nickname implies, endorphins can contribute to heightened feelings of happiness. Not only can this help with coping with depression, it gives you more opportunities to connect with people who enjoy the same physical activities as you. However, be sure to speak to a medical professional before making any changes to your exercise regime.
Adopt a Healthy Diet
Widely embraced as a healthy alternative to a meat-eating lifestyle, the Mediterranean diet is plant-based and encourages dieters to eat more fruits, vegetables, and lentils. Eating fish high in Omega-3 fatty acids is also encouraged, but in moderate amounts. Red meat and sugar are excluded and discouraged. Diets like these can help you steer clear of foods that have been associated with potentially triggering or exacerbating depression. If your friends want to improve their diet too, host a Sunday brunch where you can serve a Mediterranean meal for everyone to enjoy.
Spend Quality Time with Loved Ones
While you work on upgrading the physical, dietary, and mental aspects of your life, don’t forget to tend to your social life too. Schedule quality time with friends, family, and loved ones. Surrounding yourself with a supportive circle can alleviate feelings of isolation and depression, reminding you how loved you are and how wonderful life can be when you share it with other people.
Find Your People at Newcastle Place
When you’re part of a social group it provides a profound sense of belonging and establishes a support system of friends who can navigate the challenges of life with you. If you’re seeking to join such a group or simply expand your social circle, consider joining a senior living community like Newcastle Place, located in Mequon, Wisconsin.
In our charming community, residents connect over meals, participate in events together, join social clubs, and much more. There are endless ways to fill your days with others here. Learn more about the Newcastle Place lifestyle when you contact us, or complete the form below.