Older adults suffering from a behavioral problem like anxiety or depression may feel ashamed and think they just need to “pull their boots up,” but helping them seek help can empower them, experts say to live the best life.
“Everyone is different, but there are tools for better health, including therapy, medication and self-care,” said Dr. Lindsay Evans-Mitchell, Behavioral Health Medical Director at Cigna Medicare Advantage.
Behavioral disorders affect one in five adults over age 55. Older men have the highest suicide rate of any age group and gender. For men aged 75 and over, the suicide rate is 40.2 per 100,000 – almost triple the overall rate.
The most common behavioral disorder in older adults is dementia, and its prevalence is increasing as the baby boomer generation ages. Experts predict that by 2030, more than 9 million Americans age 65 and older will have dementia. Anxiety disorders and mood disorders are also common among older people.
Dealing with a behavioral health problem? These self-help tips may help:
1. Find a provider. “Cognitive disorders like dementia and mood disorders often look the same,” said Dr. Evans-Mitchell. “Only a trained professional can make an accurate diagnosis.” For help finding a provider, contact your primary care physician or health insurance provider, such as: B. Medicare or Medicare Advantage. Also consider virtual therapy. It’s easy to schedule and offers the convenience of seeing a therapist without leaving home.
2. Groom yourself. Good nutrition nourishes the body and mind. If you have questions about older adult diets, consult your doctor or a registered dietitian. Also, drink water throughout the day. “Dehydration can make cognitive problems worse,” said Dr. Evans-Mitchell.
3. Sleep well. Like all adults, older people need seven to nine hours of sleep a night. dr Evans-Mitchell found that older people’s tendency to go to bed early, wake up early, and nap throughout the day can disrupt healthy sleep cycles and limit rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, potentially leading to behavioral problems contributes to health problems.
4th exercise. Even moderate exercise can improve mental and physical health. The physical activity guidelines for Americans describe benefits such as improvements in brain health, better cognitive functioning, and a reduced risk of anxiety and mood disorders. People who exercise also sleep better. Having trouble getting started? Some Medicare Advantage plans include a fitness benefit, which can pay for a gym membership or provide home fitness equipment.
5. Go outside. Being outdoors has numerous benefits, including vitamin D intake, which is needed for cognitive health. In addition, research has shown that chemicals released from trees can stimulate brain functions. Don’t forget sunscreen though, as skin cancer is most common in people over 65.
6. buddy up. Papa, available through some Cigna Medicare Advantage plans, connects older adults and their families with “Papa Pals” for guidance and support. “Papa Pals” can provide transportation, help with everyday chores – or just be a friend and engage in activities like watching movies or playing games.
7. Parents a pet. Caring for pets generates positive emotions and can reduce anxiety. Petting a dog has been shown to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and pets make a compound that can increase two feel-good chemicals in the brain: oxytocin and dopamine. Dogs also encourage people to exercise outdoors.
“Behavioural health issues can be complex and confusing, but taking positive action can be empowering,” said Dr. Evans-Mitchell. “It’s never too late for a fresh start.”