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How’s your health? I can guarantee I get asked this question a lot these days. Generally I describe how I have a few aches and pains in my body, particularly in my hip joints. However no-one really talks about their mental health. It’s like a taboo subject unless someone directly asks you if you’re coping ok mentally. I believe that taking steps to address mental health issues and maybe seeking counselling in your 50s and 60s is just as important as looking after yourself physically.
According to Head to Health (Australian Government Department of Health) “elderly people have their own set of circumstances, challenges, and risk factors related to their mental health and wellbeing that no other age group has”.
Amongst mental health factors affecting older people are things like physical health struggles, social isolation, lack of access to treatment, changing living arrangements, and financial stresses. When you think about it coming to terms with chronic physical ailments, aches and pains, and changes in brain function, it could be potentially depressing. In a lot of instances your body is not able to do what it once could do and even gentle movements can lead to injury and physical pain.
In some cases retirees struggle coming to terms with no longer being employed and productive in paid work, which can lead to feeling despondent and purposeless. It’s difficult transitioning from going to a job everyday to becoming a retiree and suddenly having no sense of purpose, except to carry out odd jobs around the house, to take up hobbies or look after grandchildren.
What is imagined as being the best time of your life, finally having the freedom to do whatever you want, like having more time for family, friends, travel and hobbies, can sometimes be a challenge. Having endless daylight hours to fill can get lonely and depressing, particularly if you had a busy fulfilling career.
The best way to support your mental health as you age is by finding ways to stay physically active and socially engaged. You can build good mental health in a manner of ways:
Mental health can affect anyone at any time and many of us that seek treatment do go on to effectively manage their recovery. As with a physical illness, a person with a mental health condition will benefit from the right treatment and support. It’s not something to be ashamed about and it doesn’t mean that you’re “losing your marbles”!
Counselling was extremely effective in my case even after a couple of sessions. It was as though the fog immediately lifted and I obtained an insight into why I was feeling the way I did. It truly was the best thing I could have done to help myself on the road to recovery.
Although I visited a Counsellor in person, more and more people are experiencing positive outcomes after using online counselling or therapy. The beauty of online counselling is that it makes it accessible, affordable, and convenient – so anyone who struggles with life’s challenges can get help, anytime, anywhere. There’s no need to wait for an appointment with the appropriate professional as licensed, trained, experienced, and accredited therapists and counsellors are available 24/7.
It is heartening to see that mental health is a lot more publicised these days and that there are many options for seeking help. Charitable organisations such as Beyond Blue, Black Dog Institute and Livin are doing great work in our community raising awareness about mental health. My advice is to never disregard depression or “feeling down” as a normal part of life. Seek help before it’s too late.
Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.