Mental Health In Your Older Years

by Dr. Karen Ruskin on September 2, 2017

Mental Health in one’s older years (which is deemed age 60 and above), is an important topic. 1 in 4 older Americans will experience some type of mental illness in their lives (source: My Medicare Matters in partnership with Mental Health America). 1 in 5 older adults experience mental health concerns that are not a normal part of aging (source: LIFE Senior Services). Yet sadly, research shows that mental illness in the older years is under-diagnosed and under-treated. The Men’s Club of Sharon which has well over 300 members from throughout Massachusetts (along with a wait-list to join – many of the members pointed out with pride how popular it is), of whose members are men in their 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and above, invited me to speak at their most recent event. 

The focus of my speech included 3 main categories:

  • Facts about mental health and aging
  • Concrete tips and do-able practical life-style strategies to live a life of mental health and wellness
  • Question and answer session  

Facts – Mental Health in your 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and above…

Mental Health matters at any age. Speaker Dr. Karen Ruskin at the Sharon Men’s Club.

  • Age does not determine nor define one’s capabilities, skills nor one’s health and wellness (physical, intellectual, nor mental)
  • Negative stereotype/myths about mental health and aging. It is a myth to assume that just because you are older you will feel sad and be depressed
  • Theories as to why older adults far too often do not seek mental health treatment or receive the help they need (breaking that barrier)
  • Older adults can be helped with the same successful outcome as younger people
  • The most common mental health issues (anxiety and depression)
  • Suicide risk among older adults
  • The mind-body connection
  • Things that affect mental health (e.g., changing bodies and chemistry, changes in family and friendships and living situations, medication, medical conditions)
  • Addiction
  • Mental health matters at any age
  • Mental health illness has serious implications for older adults and their loved one’s. Choosing to make mentally healthy choices affects your mental and physical wellness, as well as affects the lives of those you love and who love you

Mental Health tips and healthy life-style living choices

Speaker Dr. Karen Ruskin providing facts and tips regarding Mental Health at the Sharon Men’s Club.

  • It is a lifestyle choice to control one’s controllables. Make that choice. It is when we feel out of control that we feel unwell emotionally/mentally
  • How we view our life’s challenges affects our mental health (the lens in which how we view life’s challenges affects how we feel)
  • How we think affects how we feel which affects how we act, which affects our mental health. Be mindfully conscious of positive thinking for our thinking matters. For example; view of self: self love and acceptance vs. negative view of self, self empowerment vs. viewing one’s self as a victim
  • Use of meditative breath
  • Depression turned out externally towards others presents itself as anger 
  • Social health (socializing with others), intellectual health (mental stimulation), physical health (exercise, food) (acronym SIP)  – affects one’s mental health. (Thus, live a lifestyle of SIP: social, intellectual and physical health which will positively effect one’s mental health. To create mental health live a SIP lifestyle)

    A great turn out! Men’s Club of Sharon with Dr. Karen Ruskin discussing: Mental Health in Your Older Years.

  • Acceptance of the things that are out of one’s control and taking action on the things that are in one’s control
  • There are things that change as the years move forward (e.g., sexual behavior/sexual health). Rather than defining what is acceptable and leads one to feel joy now based upon what was, discover life and health in the now thus finding beauty in the now
  • Create structure and routine in one’s life 
  • Senses affect our health and wellness (e.g., touch, site, sound, smell, taste…)

Q&A Dr. Karen Ruskin and the Men’s Club of Sharon 

  • How to help a friend who seems depressed since his wife is in a nursing home
  • Advice for a man whose wife is over-burdened with her sister’s mental health needs
  • and more…

Sharon Community Television

Thank you to Sharon Community TV of whom filmed this speech at the Sharon Men’s Club, airing with frequency on Sharon Community TV Channel 8. 

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Zach Fener September 4, 2017 at 6:53 pm

Serenity prayer: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things that I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

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