How to Protect Your Mental Health as You Get Older

How to Protect Your Mental Health as You Get Older

Maintaining psychological and emotional wellness is important throughout your life. However, it’s important to recognize that as you age you are likely to face different challenges. The result of this is often that you’ll also need to adopt new or additional ways to safeguard your mental health.

This certainly isn’t always easy. Nevertheless, it is far from unmanageable. With some focus on key areas of mental wellness, you can make a significant difference in your quality of life as you age.

Let’s dive into a few of the actions you can take to protect your mental health as you get older.

Avoid Isolation

Everybody benefits from a little alone time. However, it is important to ensure that you are not inadvertently isolating yourself. The National Council on Aging (NCOA) has reported that social isolation and loneliness have a negative impact on the quality of life in aging populations. This isn’t just from the perspective of potentially triggering symptoms of depression and anxiety. These mental health conditions can also put additional pressure on physical health.

As such, it is important to mitigate the potential for isolation as much as possible. This begins with maintaining regular contact with a core set of relationships in your life. It doesn't necessarily have to be traditional family members. As long as you have people you see regularly and feel comfortable talking openly to, this can relieve the negative effects of isolation.

Alongside this, it’s also important to make efforts to meet new friends and widen your social circle. Joining creative groups or sports clubs can connect you to peers that share similar interests. You can also meet a wider range of people by engaging with community volunteer organizations.

Age in Place

One of the concerns many people have as they get older is where they’ll be residing. The last thing most want is to give up their homes in favour of a nursing home. After all, you’re likely to have built a lot of memories in your space and it’s where you feel most secure. Not to mention that there are significant connections between your environment and your mental well-being.

Therefore, it’s worth making arrangements to age in place wherever possible. Aging in place means that seniors are able to remain at home while still getting the support needed. You’ll still have the independence to perform your usual activities and household chores. This can bolster your self-esteem and sustain your cognitive functioning. However, you’ll also have a certain amount of assistance provided by a network of friends, family members, and visiting care professionals.

That said, aging in place isn’t something that can be improvised. It’s important to work with your family and care professionals to make arrangements well in advance. There will also need to be regular assessments to identify any additional needs and put necessary resources in place.

Address Stress

Stress is a common contributor to mental health challenges. Unfortunately, there’s no way of completely avoiding all stress. Nevertheless, it is important as you get older to be active in finding ways to navigate potential sources of stress in your life.

Part of the solution here is to take control of the issues that are within your power. For instance, you may be able to manage your financial stress by creating a budget to stick to and minimizing costs where necessary. However, part of empowering yourself is to speak out when you are feeling the strain. Talking to friends, family, and mental health professionals can help lighten the psychological load and identify solutions.

It’s also wise to make preparations for potentially stressful situations, like natural disasters or house fires. Particularly if you have mobility challenges, a solid emergency preparedness plan can help you effectively remove yourself from a dangerous situation. This should include assessing your specific needs alongside the hazards you may face. You can then identify the safest routes and resources and make arrangements with your support network. Simply having this plan in place can reduce the stress of the unknown.


Protecting your mental health as you get older has the potential to improve various areas of your wellness. As such, it’s important to avoid the isolation and loneliness that commonly contributes to depression and anxiety. Making arrangements to age in place can bolster your self-esteem by maintaining your independence. You’ll also find that addressing current and potential sources of stress is key to retaining your peace of mind. Work together with family, friends, and care professionals to find the solutions that meet your particular mental health needs.


This article was kindly submitted by Katie Brenneman.


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