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Breaking the Silence: 10 Ways Mental Health Impacts Senior Well-Being

As we age, we tend to experience tremendous life changes that we must adapt to. While many of these changes are positive, sometimes life throws things at us that are more challenging. These challenges often contribute to the increased visibility of mental health problems, such as depression or anxiety. Oftentimes, these problems are dismissed as an unavoidable fact of life or go undiagnosed due to the stigma surrounding mental health conversations such as availing senior mental health services. However, the fact is this: according to WHO, over 20% of adults over the age of 60 suffer from a mental disorder of some type. Many factors can contribute to the prevalence of mental health disorders, such as chronic illness, grief, genetics, and lifestyle. However, it can be difficult to see tangible ways that poor mental health affects our day-to-day lives. Here are 10 ways mental health can impact your overall well-being in ways you may – or may not – currently realize. 

1) Keep chronic conditions in check.

It is no secret that our mental and physical health is closely related. As we get older and face changes to our bodies, we can begin to feel limited due to chronic pain, frequent hospitalizations, and a loss of independence due to our sudden reliance on others. These changes can make existing mental illnesses worse. Conversely, it actually becomes more important as you get older to ensure that your mental health is receiving the same attention and care as your physical health. Think of mental and physical health as two sides of the same coin – they affect each other more than you might think! 

For example, the prevalence of depression is linked to chronic diseases such as diabetes, asthma, cancer, and arthritis. It has been proven that the treatment of mental health conditions, such as therapy, has positive effects on physical health, including lower blood pressure and better sleep, which increases your physical health. Senior mental health services like talk therapy can also help you identify any personal issues that might be a hindrance to your mental health, which can, as a result, reduce chronic pain.

2) Create more room in your life for loved ones. 

Strong relationships are a major factor in longevity and can have a major impact on well-being. Studies show that having a reliable community can increase your self-confidence, boost happiness, and provide a sense of belonging. Friendship and other relationships can also help avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits — it’s no surprise that the people who love you want you to live longer!  

A popular adage states that you can’t fill up another person’s cup if yours is empty. Our friends, family, spouses, and loved ones often rely on us for support, and if your mental health is not where you’d like it to be, it can be difficult to muster up the energy to provide that support. 

Good mental health treatment can also help you learn how to create healthy boundaries in your relationships, which can often be the foundation for healthy, long-lasting friendships. 

3) Gain the tools to face life’s hardships.

an elderly woman reveling in her newfound strength after availing senior mental health services

One of the biggest gains that therapy patients will experience is resilience. Unless you’ve lived an unusually gifted life, you will find situations that can be discouraging, saddening, or even depressing. This will happen to all of us, but not all of us have the inert tools to deal with life’s hardships. 

Senior mental health services can help patients develop the tools they need to deal with the physical, emotional, and social changes that life throws at them. When things get hard, it is important not to stew in our own emotions and avoid outlets but instead take proactive steps to discover what tools we need to become more resilient. 

4) Promote better exercise habits.

As previously mentioned, there is a deep correlation between mental and physical health. Physical health issues, such as chronic illness, can increase the likelihood of suffering from mental health disorders. However, this correlation can also be used positively to work in your favor. People with higher mental well-being are more likely to take steps to take care of themselves. They make healthier choices and are more likely to avoid unhealthy habits. 

Creating the space to have a strong mental presence also provides the energy and motivation needed to set aside time and energy for exercise.

5) Decrease your likelihood of substance abuse.

Substance abuse disorder is more common in older generations than you might think. In fact, studies show that older adults are more likely to unintentionally abuse medicines and to take substances to cope with life’s big changes. Drug abuse among older adults is also more dangerous because the aging body is often unable to break down drugs and alcohol as easily as it did when it was younger. Alcohol abuse can put older people at a greater risk for a range of health problems, such as high blood pressure, liver issues, memory problems, and mood disorders. 

Talk therapy can help mitigate the likelihood of destructive behaviors, including substance abuse, and help you live a longer, healthier, happier life. 

6) Increase your memory and other cognitive functions.

You probably already knew that mental and physical health were closely related, but did you know that there is also a strong correlation between mental health and cognitive ability? Science shows us that people with higher levels of psychological well-being usually have better cognitive function, including stronger memory (5)

7) Sleep more soundly. 

There is a strong correlation between sleep habits and mental health. For example, the average person might find it difficult to sleep when they are experiencing challenging times or mental health issues. Just like diet and exercise, sleep is a necessary component of a healthy life.

Good sleep habits help cognitive function as well; the right amount of sleep helps to repair and restore our brains, consolidate memories, and process information. It is also required to help restore our brains and bodies for the following day. With unchecked mental disorders, we might find it difficult to get sleep at night, which can make existing physical and emotional issues even worse.

8) Increase your energy. 

a man and woman holding hands on a beach after availing senior mental health services

Much like physical stamina, mental stamina is usually a finite resource that refills each day (if we take care of ourselves). According to Healthline, mental energy can affect one’s ability to memorize details, pay attention to important things, and make decisions. This means that mental health and energy are closely linked; both affect how we interact with the world around us and the choices we make. 

9) Be more motivated.

People with debilitating mental illnesses are more likely to have unhealthy habits and make choices that can be detrimental to longevity. Poor mental health can affect our motivation, which can affect how we take care of ourselves. People with poor mental health are more likely to adopt unhealthy habits such as poor nutrition, smoking, or substance abuse. 

Talk therapy can help increase motivation, creating a version of you that is more energized and excited to take care of yourself.

10) Find your inner adventurer. 

Mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety make it difficult to want to do even the most basic tasks. It can feel like a monumental exertion to think about going outside when you’re in the depths of a period where you’re struggling with your mental health. However, the importance of spending time in nature can not be understated. Spending time in nature has been found to help with mild to moderate depression and anxiety. Older adults who walk, hike, or do other physical activities outdoors are found to be happier and live longer. 


While there is no one-size-fits-all solution for addressing mental health, there are many ways that it can be addressed and improved upon for older communities. It is important to address mental health for older adults in order to promote true health, as mental health and physical health are two equal sides of the larger picture of health. That’s why addressing mental health in seniors is crucial for overall well-being. Senior mental health services like Total Life can help older adults find the tools they need to live a long, happy, healthy life. Total Life offers comprehensive online health services to help seniors achieve better mental health. For more information or to set up a consultation, call us at 800-567-LIFE or visit us online at