Six Mental Health Tips for Seniors

Category: Assisted Living

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), as many as 14% of people who are 60 or older have a mental health disorder. Unfortunately, seniors are more likely to experience lifestyle and health struggles that can contribute to such conditions. Keep reading to learn more about mental health issues in the elderly, plus the top six mental health tips for seniors.

An elderly man holding his head in frustration as he speaks with a counselor.

What Is the Most Common Mental Health Problem for Older Adults?

The most common mental health disorders amongst seniors 60 or older are anxiety and depression, according to the WHO.

Why Do the Elderly Struggle With Mental Health?

It’s no secret that aging is no picnic. The older a person gets, the more likely they are to experience life-altering loss and health issues that can result in anxiety and depression. The WHO notes that many factors can increase the likelihood that elderly mental health may be negatively affected.

The following are risk factors for mental health disorders in seniors:

  • Having a chronic illness
  • Social isolation and loneliness
  • Grief
  • Elder abuse
  • Ageism
  • Becoming overwhelmed by caring for an ailing partner
  • Improper living conditions
  • Substance abuse issues
  • A lack of support (financially and emotionally)
  • A struggle to find purpose

How Can Seniors Improve Their Mental Health?

The following six mental health tips for the elderly may help keep you or your loved one’s mental health in check:

1) Be Open to Professional Mental Health Services

According to Dr. Daniel Plotkin, the geriatric psychiatrist who authored this 2021 article published by the AARP, ageism and the false belief that it’s “normal” to experience a decline in mental health as we age are common barriers to seniors seeking mental health assistance. A decline in mental health is common in seniors but is not a normal part of aging. It’s important to stay open to services such as counseling, therapy, and/or medications prescribed by a psychiatrist if these issues arise. Haven Health’s skilled nursing facilities offer personalized options for behavior therapy that may assist you with your mental health needs as well as memory care issues.

2) Staying Mentally Engaged

Staying mentally active is important for staying happy, keeping the mind sharp, and giving yourself a sense of enjoyment and purpose as you age. According to the National Institute on Aging (NIH), some evidence suggests that those who participate in “personally meaningful activities” feel happier and stave off mental decline. Participating in hobbies and other mentally stimulating activities may even be beneficial for delaying mental impairment for those with Alzheimer’s disease.

Suggestions for mentally engaging activities include:

  • Playing games
  • Volunteering
  • Creative writing
  • Dancing
  • Going to the theater
  • Reading
  • Taking a class
  • Learning a new skill (quilting, photography, painting, etc.)

3) Staying Socially Engaged

According to the NIH, staying socially active can help with staying mentally engaged and overall happiness. It may also improve quality of life and prevent certain health conditions. Keeping a social circle may also help provide emotional support during more difficult times.

4) Getting Enough Exercise

Staying physically active is beneficial in improving cognitive function and reducing the risk of depression, diabetes, and heart disease. Some research suggests that exercise may even prevent Alzheimer’s disease, according to the NIH.

It is recommended that all adults get 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week. Some suggestions for getting yourself up and moving around include:

  • Taking a walk
  • Joining a water aerobics class (be sure to okay this with your doctor)
  • Housework
  • Practicing tai chi
  • Taking a dance class
  • Practicing balance exercises
  • Stretching exercises or senior yoga
  • Lifting small weights

If issues with mobility or pain are preventing you from getting enough exercise, be sure to contact the staff at a Haven Health nursing facility and ask about their physical therapy options.

5) Maintaining a Healthy Diet

According to the NIH, some evidence suggests that following a Mediterranean diet may prevent dementia. A healthy diet will also prevent further health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.

6) Getting Enough Sleep

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NIH), not getting enough sleep has been linked to increasing a person’s risk of depression, diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension. Unfortunately, getting to sleep and staying asleep tends to become more difficult with age. If you’re struggling to get the minimum required seven hours of sleep a night, be sure to discuss your options with your doctor for better sleep.

Stay Healthy, Happy, and Active With Haven Health

An assisted living facility aid holding hands with an elderly man as she comforts him.

Getting older can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be quite so mentally taxing. You can maintain better mental health as you age by making time to stay healthy, happy, active, and open to suggestions. For more resources about senior care facilities near you or if you’re curious about your assisted living facility options, check out Haven Health’s many Arizona locations.

Have you or a loved one been looking for an assisted living facility? Contact Haven Health to learn about their individualized approach to patient care.


Cognitive Health and Older Adults. (2020).

How Sleep Affects Your Health. (2022).

Mental health of older adults. (2023).

Plotkin, D. (2021). Think You Are Too Old for Mental Health Therapy?