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Health & Wellness

5 Strategies for Seniors to Overcome Depression

If you or a loved one are struggling with depression, you are not alone–depression is an increasingly common mental health issue. Thankfully, depression is treatable. Here are some strategies to help seniors overcome depression and get back to a healthy mental state. 

1. Ask For Help

Depression is a serious condition, which is why it’s imperative that if you are experiencing symptoms of depression, you seek treatment as soon as possible. Your doctor will run tests to see if medications or health issues are the cause. If not, they may refer you to a mental health expert for a psychological evaluation, where you may be prescribed different forms of therapy, supplements, or medications. 

2. Discover (or Rediscover) Your Purpose

Many people are fueled by their purpose and passions in life. While retiring or moving to a senior living community may feel like an exciting fresh start, you may also feel listless, not knowing what to do with your newfound free time. Your life can look however you want it to–the possibilities are endless. 

Take time to contemplate what sparks your interest. Many people like to focus on strengthening their relationships and forming new ones. Others find fulfillment in pursuing skill mastery, their favorite hobbies, or new experiences. If you are an expert in a certain subject, look for ways to give back by sharing this expertise through mentorship or guest-speaking opportunities. 

3. Address Any Sleep Challenges

Both quality and quantity are important when it comes to sleep. Getting too much or too little sleep and poor sleep quality can exacerbate depression. Adults should get between seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Set yourself up for a good night’s sleep with the following tips. 

    • Stick to a sleep schedule. Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day.
    • Limit naps. Keep your naps short and try not to nap past the early afternoon. 
    • Wind down for 30 minutes. Set aside time to relax 30 minutes before your bedtime with calming activities, such as reading, listening to mellow music, or doing breathing exercises. 
  • Cut out bright lights. Electronic devices and bright lights can emit blue light, which can disrupt melatonin production. Because of this, try to stay off of electronics for 30 to 60 minutes before bed. 
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol late at night. Both of these can hinder your sleep quantity and quality. 
  • Keep a comfortable environment. Blackout curtains, a noise machine, a comfortable mattress and pillows, cozy bedding, and keeping your room at a cool, comfortable temperature can support a good night’s sleep. 

If you notice you have low energy or struggle to fall or stay asleep, speak to your doctor. They can help you find a solution. 

4. Incorporate Physical Activity

A sedentary lifestyle can contribute to depression. Exercise stimulates the release of endorphins–your body’s natural “feel-good” chemicals–that can help lower feelings of depression. Even just walking for 30 minutes daily can be beneficial. Regular exercise has many additional benefits, too, including improving sleep quality.  Exercising with friends can also be a fun social activity. 

Of course, before incorporating any form of exercise into your routine, consult with a physician for advice according to your unique health status. 

5. Get Connected in Your Community

One of the biggest contributors to depression in seniors is feeling lonely or isolated. That’s why a flourishing social life is key to emotional wellness. The best way to nurture your social life is to get involved in your community. 

  • Volunteer at a non-profit, religious organization, pet shelter, or charity
  • Sign up for a club or group that interests you, like bird-watching 
  • Take classes to learn a new skill, such as pottery, painting, music, crocheting, or speaking a foreign language 
  • Join a recreational sports team, such as golf, pickleball, frisbee, shuffleboard, or swimming 
  • Participate in exercise classes, like Zumba, walking, pilates, or yoga 
  • Play group games such as cards, chess, or dominos

In addition to extracurriculars, living in a senior community can also help you guard against loneliness. From a brimming social calendar to engaging events, amenities, and activities to like-minded people that live right next door, community life has plenty of opportunities to get connected. 

Find Your People at Oak Trace

Life at Oak Trace, a luxury senior living community in Downers Grove, Illinois, offers you numerous opportunities to find your people. We’re committed to helping every resident thrive. Contact us to explore your living options, or complete the form below. 

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