Maintaining good mental health is important for seniors

May 25—ASHTABULA—May is Mental Health Month with this year’s theme of learning to cope with emotions, mental health triggers, and dealing with the unexpected.

Most seniors age 60 and older enjoy good mental health, but many seniors are at risk for developing mental disorders, neurological disorders, or substance use problems, as well as other health conditions such as diabetes, hearing loss, and osteoarthritis.

Ashtabula County Medical Center Family physician and sports medicine doctor, Dr. Nathaniel Franley suggests ways to help prevent depression later in life.

“Still there is nothing more powerful than exercise for protecting the brain. It can help with depression as well as reduce the risk of many types of cancer, heart disease and stroke,” he said. “The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of cardiovascular activity five days a week and a few days a week of strength training.”

Franley also recommends playing an instrument or playing intellectual games like dominoes, cards, chess or checkers, and staying social can help keep your mind sharp, he said.

More than 19 million Americans suffer at least one depressive episode each year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Anxiety can be triggered by stress or grief, but also by more common situations such as meeting new people or being in an unfamiliar place.

Depression can also be caused by isolation or major life changes, such as retirement, moving, or conflict in relationships. Older people may experience these common stresses, but also stressors that are more common in adulthood, such as significant ongoing loss of skills and a decline in functional capacity. For example, seniors may have reduced mobility, chronic pain, frailty or other health issues for which they require some type of long-term care. In addition, seniors are more likely to experience events such as bereavement or a drop in socioeconomic status with retirement.

All of these stressors can result in isolation, loneliness or psychological distress in seniors, for which they may require long-term care, according to the WHO.

Mental health impacts physical health and vice versa. For example, seniors with physical health issues such as heart disease have higher rates of depression than healthy ones, according to the WHO.

Treatment options considered for all ages include therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes. Only by talking to a mental health professional can a person come up with an individualized treatment plan.

Local senior centers can help seniors connect with others.

Many seniors need help making and going to medical appointments, which may include mental health facilities.

Ashtabula County Transportation System (ACTS) buses provide transportation services to all areas of Ashtabula County – at designated bus stops and areas not accessible on regular bus routes.

Door-to-door service is available from Monday to Friday, from 7 am to 5 pm. Trips must be booked 24 to 48 hours in advance. You can call 440-992-4411 or call toll free 800-445-4140. When calling, be prepared with the following information:

—From where are you leaving;

-Where would you like to go;

— When do you need to arrive, and

“When you need to come back.”

When booking a trip with door-to-door service, you will have a 30-minute break during which you can be picked up. Drivers are advised to wait no more than five minutes after arriving at the pick-up location.

Call ACTS at (440) 992-4411 or toll free at (800) 445-4140 if you would like the bus to pick you up closer to your home.

If you need to talk to a psychiatrist about anxiety or depression, ACMC providers offer telehealth visits as well as in-office visits. To schedule an appointment, call 440-997-6969.

Maintaining good mental health is important for seniors

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