4 Ways to Enhance Mental Health in Seniors

Seniors face unique challenges that make them particularly susceptible to mental health challenges, including memory issues, and an increasing sense of loneliness. Research conducted by the CDC reveals that around 20% of individuals aged 55 and above experience some form of mental health issues.

Anxiety and low mood can have detrimental effects on the physical wellbeing of older adults. The CDC emphasizes that our mental health can hinder our physical health, and complicate the treatment of dangerous diseases.

If you wish to help such patients as a medical professional, then the online doctorate AGACNP program may be a great choice. However, if you want to learn more about how mental health in seniors can be improved as a family member or loved one, keep reading to learn more.

Senior Mental Health Overview

Life experiences, challenges, and stressors can accumulate over time, potentially leading to the onset or exacerbation of mental health issues.

However, it’s important to note that poor mental wellbeing should not be considered a normal aspect of aging. Apart from clinical interventions like therapy or prescribed medications, there are numerous resources available to help older adults stay engaged and maintain good mental health.

One crucial aspect is nurturing meaningful social relationships with friends and family members, which significantly contributes to preventing mental health issues in older adults.

How to Ensure Great Mental Health in Older Adults

1. Exercise

Engaging in various forms of physical activity, such as regular walks, yoga classes, or ballroom dancing, brings significant benefits to both the mind and body of seniors. These activities enhance confidence and decrease the likelihood of falls. Older adults must remain active and incorporate sufficient exercise into their routines.

Low-impact exercises like stretching and strength training are particularly necessary for seniors, as they promote good health and reduce the risk of common age-related issues such as bone fractures, joint pain, and chronic illnesses.

Beyond the physical advantages, exercise also plays a key role in managing stress, anxiety, and depression among seniors.

2. Mental Stimulation

The brain requires stimulation to remain sharp and prevent cognitive decay as we grow older.

Mentally stimulating activities can enhance cognitive abilities such as thinking speed, planning abilities, reaction span, short-term memory, and decision-making abilities. There are numerous activities accessible to seniors that fulfill this purpose, such as:

  • Learning new languages. Learning a new language is a beneficial activity as it exercises brain regions often affected by aging. Additionally, it can boost confidence and provide opportunities for increased socialization with others who are also learning or proficient in the language.
  • Playing games. Playing puzzles and games, besides being enjoyable, may have the ability to delay memory decline and improve seniors' mental health. These activities offer both entertainment and cognitive benefits.

3. Strong Friendships

Maintaining close relationships with old friends can be challenging as people age, given time and distance constraints. However, older adults must cultivate friendships to combat feelings of loneliness and low mood.

The advent of the Internet has made it easier to stay connected with both old and new friends. Technology such as FaceTime, Zoom, or Skype, can effectively maintain contact.

Older adults can seek assistance from others, whether it be friends or online tutorials, to learn how to navigate these various applications. Alternatively, they can opt for more traditional methods, such as writing letters or establishing a regular schedule for phone calls, to keep in touch with loved ones.

4. Pets

Having pets can provide seniors with companionship, keeping them active and engaged while receiving unconditional love in return. Research shows that the bond between humans and animals can enhance emotional wellbeing.

Owning a pet may lead to various health benefits, including lower blood pressure, reduced feelings of loneliness, and increased opportunities for socialization. For those who are unable or prefer not to own a pet, volunteering at an animal shelter can still provide a means to connect with animals and support organizations in need.


Nurturing mental health is of utmost importance for older adults, as it contributes to overall wellbeing and helps prevent physical decline.

Mental health and physical health are closely interconnected. Untreated mental health issues can lead to or exacerbate physical ailments in older adults. For example, chronic stress, anxiety, or depression can weaken the immune system, increase inflammation, and contribute to conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and cognitive decline.

Aging often comes with significant life transitions, such as retirement, loss of loved ones, or changes in physical abilities. Good mental health provides resilience to adapt to these changes more effectively.

Exercise, mental stimulation, exercise and owning pets are four ways that older people can take control of their mental wellbeing.

It's important to note that individual preferences and abilities should be considered when choosing activities. Older adults should consult with healthcare professionals to determine suitable exercise regimens and to address any specific health concerns.

Furthermore, promoting a holistic approach to health, which includes regular health check-ups, a balanced diet, and sufficient sleep, can further contribute to the overall wellbeing of older adults.

Interested in a self-guided program? The Mental Wellbeing Toolkit is "like 10 therapy sessions in one."
The Mental Wellbeing Toolkit


About Rebecca

Rebecca is the founder of The Wellness Society and author of two fluff-free books, The Framework and Understanding and Healing Trauma.

She's passionate about creating concise and compassionate mental health and wellbeing tools that address the root causes of distress.

Read more about her views on our About page.