Five Factors That Influence Mental Well-being In The Elderly

Mental well-being is as important for people in the later stage of their life as it is for people at any other stage in life. Most people assume that old age is depressing and distressing, featured by loss and disability. This is a common misconception most people seem to share, but the reality is that older people are as capable as younger people at enjoying life, coping with difficulties, engaging in satisfying activities and taking on life’s challenges. They also make a real contribution to their families and communities, using their wealth of knowledge and experience. With that said, here are six factors that influence mental well-being in elderly people.

1. Retirement

Retirement is an unavoidable consequence of old age and is often seen it’s hallmark. Some older people may welcome it as an opportunity to relax and enjoy the few last years of their life and engage in the activities they’d set aside while working. However, for others, it might mean a number of negative things like significant reduction of income, change in self-image and identity, a narrowing of their social network and support system and lastly, the recognition of their mortality. With that said, retirement can improve or worsen an elderly person’s mental well-being depending on how he/she takes it.

2. Changes in income

Compared to younger people of the same social class, older people generally have lower incomes or are more vulnerable to poverty due to a number factors , the most common being retirement, inability to contribute effectively to the workforce and low pensions. This is one of the most common factors that influence the mental well-being of people, specifically older people.

3. Physical changes

People undergo various physical changes as they age and proceed into later life. They become significantly weakened (physically) and more liable to mental and physical health problems that greatly affect their mental and emotional state. The increased vulnerability to chronic health-related conditions can greatly affect older people’s psychological well-being. The physical changes and health problems may limit older people’s mobility, leading to less social contact which can result in mental health problems.

4. Changes in social interaction and support networks

Studies have shown that lack of adequate social interaction or support groups can lead to fatal mental health problems in humans, generally. Also, it has been proven through research that changes in support networks or lessened social interaction, most commonly due to retirement, may affect older people in a myriad of ways, such as increasing an older person’s risk of developing mental health problems.

5. Loneliness

Statistics reflect that about 10 percent of old-aged people experience loneliness and other negative emotions like depression and sadness. This is mostly due to the social isolation they experience as a result of the retirement and lessened social interaction. The absence of supportive friends and family is also a common factor that causes loneliness and influences the mental wellbeing in old adults.

Elderly people also experience a lot of age discrimination from their young counterparts like social exclusion and poor service responses. Sexual orientation and gender identity is also a common factor that influences elderly people’s mental wellbeing.

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