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Maintaining Mental Health as You Grow Older: Tips and Strategies

January 25, 2020

How does growing old impact your mental health? We explore this topic in detail below.

Good health cuts across all spheres of life.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

Mental health is, therefore, just as important as the physical.

We think of Depression, Anxiety, Schizophrenia and other such conditions when the term ‘mental health’ is used.

But mental health is more than the absence of mental disorders.

What Does “Good” Mental Health Mean?

To be in good mental health, you have a state of well-being where you’re aware of your abilities, can cope with the usual stresses of life, work productively and fruitfully, and can make a positive contribution to your community.

How Does Growing Old Affect Mental Health?

Ageing is a normal phenomenon that most of us will experience. However, everyone adapts to ageing differently.

Many people cope quite well, surrounding themselves with family and friends and engaging activity as they age that result in fulfilment and peace of mind.

But quite a lot of people don’t.

In addition to the physical changes that occur in the body due to the process of ageing, there are also changes to one’s mental state.

Ageing could significantly impact your mental health due to some of the life changes you experience. For many of us, growing old and mental health can be especially challenging. Thinking ahead about how it may affect you can help reduce some negative impacts.

How Your Mental Health Changes With Age

  • As you grow older, you may get less active and agile than in your youth.
    • This may be destabilising, leading to losing your independence and relying on other people for your usual activities.
  • Limitations from engaging in activities that you love could cause frustration leading to despair.
  • Life events could complicate the picture, too.
    • Losing a loved one or close companion can create a sense of loneliness or abandonment.
  • An illness that develops as one grows older may also lead to reliance on medicines making some people less active or causing other complications.
    • For example, osteoarthritis may cause an individual to have reduced mobility and depend on pain medication.

Other Changes as You Grow Older

So you should realise that not only physical changes that happen with ageing. Other things contribute.

Add one’s own life experiences, environment and genetics: these all contribute to developing mental health conditions like depression, dementia and anxiety.

Nevertheless, there are some factors that may contribute to good health, e.g. diet, exercise, genetics, etc.

In a nutshell, physical health affects your mental health and vice versa.

How To Maintain Good Mental Health as You Grow Older?

The good news is that there are ways to ensure that the transition to old age does not affect your mental health.

Here are some surprising tips for positive ageing (which can also work for individuals of all ages).


  • Exercise: It does not have to be weightlifting or running.
    • Move around every now and then, even if it means taking a 10-minute walk in your neighbourhood, gardening or playing with your grandchildren.
    • A sedentary lifestyle is not beneficial to health, whether young or old.
    • Engage in activities you love regularly: This could be anything from watching films, and TV shows, visiting loved ones or inviting family members over to spend time with you.
    • Spending time with loved ones or doing things you love would help to keep you in good spirits.


  • While there could be many sad memories, try not to dwell on your past but focus on and enjoy your present.
    • Who says you are too old to try new things?
    • Contrary to popular belief, the human brain does not stop changing with age.
    • Therefore, you are capable of developing new habits that can help you adapt to this new phase of your life.
    • So, stay positive and do not brood over things you used to do but can no longer partake of effectively.
    • Discover new hobbies or look for opportunities to participate in meaningful activity that involves socialisation to curb feelings of isolation.
    • For example, if you are a retired teacher who misses going to work daily and spending time with students, you may volunteer at your local church or mosque or even babysit for neighbours.
    • Something else to do is spend time with other individuals of the same age group with similar interests, which would help curb feelings of isolation or being out of place.
    • Do not hesitate to get medical aids like glasses or hearing aids that might help you function better.

Personal Wellbeing

  •  Go for regular check-ups. Visit your doctor regularly and always share your health concerns with your healthcare provider. Do not self-medicate.
    • However, in addition to regular checkups with your doctor, you should keep a close eye on any changes to your health that may require the assistance of a specialist. For example, if you are feeling bloated or dealing with any digestion issues, you may want to contact a local gastroenterologist. They will be able to assess your symptoms and work towards a potential diagnosis. If a diagnosis is made, they can help you create a treatment plan that works for you. This will not only alleviate the symptoms but will also ensure that you can continue to live your life to the fullest and don’t have to withdraw from any plans due to pain or discomfort.
    • It would help if you were honest about any other issues, such as addictions. There are plenty of addiction therapies out there, and if you have tried one before, that is no reason not to try again, as no two treatment plans are alike. If you want to live into old age and see your grandchildren marry and so forth, it is important to get better. 
  • Self-care. This ranges from adequate sleep to a balanced diet. Adequate hydration, while important at any age, is crucial in the elderly, as dehydration may cause confusion.
    • Proper hydration is essential for staying healthy and can help slow the ageing process. Drinking enough water can help lubricate joints, aid digestion, deliver oxygen throughout the body, promote healthy skin, and prevent headaches and migraines, all of which can contribute to better health and well-being as people age.
    • Since the water source affects its nutritional composition, you can be more conscious of where you buy water. You can consider expert bottled water retailers like Xeni Waters for the cleanest and purest water.

Summing Up

Using these suggestions can help with ageing positively whilst giving individuals a sense of meaning, purpose, belonging and responsibility that would ensure good mental health and overall well-being.

Remember that the choices you make have an effect on your overall well-being. Therefore, whatever your age may be, always endeavour to make healthy choices.

Do you need some help identifying what changes to make in your lifestyle to promote your mental health? Comment below or send us an enquiry. Read more here about Dealing with Anxiety.

More Reading

Learn more about this topic here:

Editing by AskAwayHealth Team


All AskAwayHealth articles are written by practising  Medical Practitioners on a wide range of healthcare conditions to provide evidence-based guidance and to help promote quality healthcare. The advice in our material is not meant to replace the management of your specific condition by a qualified healthcare practitioner.
To discuss your condition, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a health practitioner or reach us directly

Image Credits: Canva

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