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Mental Wellness in Old Age

How would you describe the aging process?

Aging is a natural and ongoing process that all of us go through. It brings with it changes and new challenges which may be difficult to deal with. Erik Erikson, a renowned developmental psychologist and psychoanalyst described that elderly people are in a phase of life when they look back at their past and reflect on what they have done. It is also a time when unachieved goals and past disappointments take centrestage in their minds and they have to try to come to terms with these.

old age 

What are some issues a person will face in old age?

As elderly people enter this phase of life, inevitable functional and aesthetic changes will also take place in their bodies. Many of them will also be confronted with a growing list of medical illnesses which often further limits their functioning. At the same time, grief becomes familiar and some may struggle with guilt as they find themselves outliving people around them – spouses, siblings, friends, ex-colleagues and even children. Loss of a loved one translates to loss of a role. For those who had worked for most part of their life, retirement reinforces the losses. How might aging affect a person’s mental wellness? What are the signs? The inability to cope with the numerous challenges can affect an elderly person’s mental wellness and quality of life. A negative outlook in life, persistent unhappiness about bodily changes, excessive worries about one’s health, social withdrawal, disturbed sleep, disturbed appetite and poor concentration are some of the possible signs of poor coping.

How can we cope with aging and not let it affect our quality of life?

Aging gracefully is an important concept that has various interpretations by society. The fundamental principle relates to coping positively with the aging process. It is about transiting well into this new phase of life, letting go of certain things, finding a new identity, taking on new roles and new meaning in life. One needs to redefine one’s notion of the physical body and adapt to, respect and accept associated bodily changes. One also needs to make peace with life, treasure the simplicity and gifts of the everyday and not agonise over past failures and unhappiness. In a nutshell, it is to accept and even celebrate aging as a part of life that is natural.

Can one age well and gracefully?

Having a healthy and active lifestyle and staying connected with people are paramount to aging well. A healthy body contributes to a healthy mind. Maintaining physical wellness and attending to one’s physical needs promptly is therefore vital. Elderly people can also focus on developing themselves further and learning new ways of perceiving and doing things. Engaging in open conversations with family and friends about the problems they face during aging allows them to process these struggles and emotions, and feel supported at the same time. This will help the elderly redefine who they are, and thereby go through the aging process gracefully.


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