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Published on July 13, 2023

Ways Nurses Can Promote Positive Mental Health in Senior Adults

When people get to a certain age in life, they no longer have the same temperament and patience that they used to have in their teens or early 20s. As much as their bodies become prone to physical ailments, their mental strength also weakens, making them more susceptible to taking the smallest thing to heart. Add to that the pressure of suffering through any illness, and their psychological well-being takes a hit. 

Statistics show that the population is aging quite rapidly. Globally, the number of people who are 60 or older will almost double by 2050. Of the total disabilities that these people face, neurological and mental health issues make up nearly 7% of them. Also, roughly 15% of people who fall in the age bracket of 60 and above have some mental condition. 

The mental health dilemma prevails just as much in older people as it does in the younger generation. As a nurse looking after senior citizens, whether at a medical health facility, a nursing home, or as part of a family in their own home, you must be mindful of their psychological strength and how to manage them. 

Here are some tips that can help you ensure the positive mental well-being of older citizens:

Start with Yourself

To provide the best possible care to elderly patients, you must start by investing in yourself. Make sure you have the appropriate academic background, the right experience, and a personality shaped ideally for the job. You can enroll in one of the many online MSN degrees now offered by some leading institutions. In this way, you will acquire advanced skills that will help you in providing better care and support to senior adults. 

And while everything else is important, working on your personality is the most crucial part of the equation. You are dealing with senior citizens and those dealing with a mental ailment. Therefore, you will need to prepare yourself for various circumstances, and you’ll need to keep your cool. Your patience will be tested numerous times, but if you react abruptly, you defeat the purpose of your job.

Offer them Counseling and Professional Help

Elderly patients are frequently impatient, irritable, and unresponsive, which makes caring for them difficult. Aging adults may experience pessimism and despair due to mental health problems, debilitating pain, illnesses, and chronic ailments. Thus, the future of geriatrics depends on caring nurses with the knowledge and ability to keep their composure among elderly patients and involve them in activities that raise their self-esteem and morale.

Through counseling and a host of professional help resources, you can make sure that you give these individuals the support they don’t just deserve but also need. You can schedule regular sessions with senior psychologists or train yourself to do this. Different nursing degree programs offer the necessary skills and experience, supported by evidence-backed training exercises and comprehensive research conducted on the subject. 

Find the Best Activities to Help Senior Citizens

Aging people may feel significant depression when their health declines to the point that they must move into nursing homes, or they may lose their mobility following a fall or due to conditions like arthritis and stroke. They could feel anxious in these circumstances and avoid engaging in any activity. 

Like older individuals, those who live independently at home may experience loneliness and melancholy due to a lack of social engagement. Your goal as a nurse should be to motivate your patients to partake in enjoyable activities that can revitalize their feeling while offering them something to look forward to. It will help in improving their mental health. 

The best senior patient activities that you can encourage them to indulge in, particularly for those with limited mobility, include:

Reading 

There is so much that reading can offer in terms of benefits, not just to older adults but to individuals of all ages. For senior citizens, especially those suffering from mental health issues, reading is the ideal activity that helps keep them calm, revitalizes their quench for knowledge, and broadens perspectives simultaneously.

Light exercise 

Since you are a nurse working with senior adults, you must understand the value of regular exercise and should encourage your patients to do so. There are several low-impact exercises you may teach your elderly patient, even if they have limited mobility, to keep their body moving. 

While standing or sitting, they can improve their health and spirits by practicing yoga, stretches, and easy exercises. Additionally, you can encourage exercises that use a mobility device for stability, or that concentrate on the legs to reduce edema.

Journaling

Writing a journal is another activity that can facilitate older adults in dealing with their mental health. Penning down thoughts, circumstances, and daily events greatly influences how the patient reacts to and takes the whole episode. Encourage your patients to indulge in this practice, as it can help them profoundly. 

Practice Art Therapy

Help your elderly patients discover their inner artists. Also, art therapy will help them get rid of negative thoughts. It also allows senior adults suffering from dementia. Additionally, art therapy lowers blood pressure and improves cognition. 

People with dementia often have low self-confidence and self-esteem because they must rely on others, even for simple tasks. You can inspire your patient to feel more confident and self-reliant by encouraging them to participate in creative activities like scrapbooking, which is a good way to distract them while improving mental agility

These activities keep your patients busy throughout the day, which promotes more restful sleep at night and leads to a healthier routine.

Conclusion

Dealing with elderly patients can be challenging, but it is the most rewarding by far. Given their age, these individuals can have difficulty preserving their mental health, which is the aspect that you’ll need to focus most of your energy on as a nurse. Your goal must be to indulge them in activities that keep them from losing their cool or adopting a negative outlook on life, which are common at this phase of life.


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