In Ireland, the number of people aged 60 or over stands at around 1 million. That figure is likely to double over the next 30 years. Living longer in an uncertain world comes with huge challenges, not least keeping ourselves mentally fit. Maintaining a healthy mind requires time and effort. So, what are the best strategies to ensure we stay happy and positive? Read on to find out.
A Healthy Diet
It’s not just our bodies that need nourishment. Our brains do too. Ideally, a balanced diet should be low in saturated fat and full of fruit and vegetables.
Oily fish has become known as brain food. It’s a good source of omega-3 fatty acids that help build membranes around our cells, including neurons found in the brain. Ideally, you should include oily fish in your diet at least once a week.
If having a steady supply of fruit and vegetables in the house is tricky, use tinned or frozen varieties instead. They can be just as nourishing. Staying hydrated is important too but you should avoid fizzy drinks that are full of sugar.
A glass of wine or beer can help us to relax but too much alcohol can cause all sorts of problems, particularly related to sleep. It might help you to nod off but overdo it and you could become dehydrated overnight and find you stay wide awake.
Alcohol is a depressant and, if you drink too much, you’ll start the day feeling less sharp and lacking in energy.
Take Plenty of Exercises
There’s a reason why people use the expression “a healthy body has a healthy mind.” When we exercise, we produce endorphins. These hormones make us feel good, inducing positive feelings.
You can adapt the exercise you take to suit your own physical needs. The important thing is to stick to it by making it part of your daily routine. Swimming and aqua-aerobics are both great for all-around fitness and have the advantage of not being harsh on joints.
Exercising with other people will help spur you on. It has the added bonus of connecting you with others. Eradicating feelings of loneliness will help optimize your mental health.
Walking, climbing stairs and even exercising in a chair all count. Choose something you enjoy as you’re more likely to stick to it. If you’re able to, try a dance class or even learn some routines with a friend.
When we have a support network, it makes us feel worthwhile and it gives us a sense of belonging. Make time to talk to family and friends regularly. If you have access to a computer, use it for video calls with relatives and join online social groups to share hobbies and experiences.
Check out groups and activities close to where you live. You could consider taking up a new hobby or learning a new craft that connects you with others through classes. Singing in a choir, taking up crochet, or joining a book club are all great choices.
Learn More About Mindfulness and Keeping Mentally Fit
Mindfulness has proved so effective that many doctors in Ireland prefer recommending it for mental health problems such as anxiety and depression over pills and tablets.
If you’re new to mindfulness, it is a technique that helps us be more aware and become connected to what is around us.
When we sit quietly, it’s normal for us to sometimes focus on worries that are troubling us. Mindfulness acknowledges this and encourages us to focus on the moment. That might mean being aware of how an item of clothing feels on our body or the sound of children playing outside the home.
Mindfulness teaches us to focus less on issues that are outside of our control. It can also help us get back to sleep if we have a habit of waking in the night. There are plenty of apps, books, and online publications that can help get you started.
Keeping Yourself Both Physically and Mentally Fit
Staying on top of your personal care makes us feel better and improves our sense of self-worth. Caring for your health and well-being includes making sure you take regular hearing and eyesight tests.
Looking after your teeth will help to prevent gum disease. Use floss or interdental brushes to remove food particles and plaque. This helps to reduce the risk of bleeding gums which can be a sign of diabetes, strokes, heart disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Make regular hair appointments. Apply moisturizer to your feet to prevent dry skin and cut toenails straight across. Ensure you wear footwear that fits you properly and gives your feet optimum support.
Give Yourself a Vitamin Boost
Because of our climate, many people in Ireland have a vitamin D deficiency. We can get a lot but often not all of our vitamin D from the sun. When we don’t get enough, it can cause bone issues, cognitive impairment and even heart disease.
Some experts recommend that all adults in Ireland should take a vitamin D supplement. As well as that, we should try and get outside for some sunshine for at least 20 minutes a day. You should talk to your doctor if you have concerns about your vitamin intake.
Keep Your Mind Active and Mentally Fit
Lists and a diary are both great ways of monitoring that we are filling our lives with sufficient activities. Exercising the mind is going to help keep our brains healthy for longer.
Here are some suggestions you could incorporate into your daily routine:
- Puzzles such as crosswords and Sudoku
- Learning something new such as a recipe, card game or handicraft
- Painting or drawing
- Writing regular letters to friends and relatives
- Subscribing to a new magazine
- Taking up a musical instrument
Choose Comfort Keepers for Extra Company
Our homecare team meets hundreds of older people every day. They’re able to offer practical advice designed to improve the mental health of those they care for. They can tailor this so it suits the needs of yourself or those of a loved one.
Our team knows what works from experience and is always happy to share the tips they pick up. If you would like more information about the range of services Comfort Keepers can offer, contact us now.