Independence good for mental health

While loneliness amongst the elderly is a common issue, for some, a little bit of solitude and ‘alone time’ can actually be beneficial.

It was recently reported that seniors who live alone were more likely to rate their health very highly, whereas those who lived with others were more likely to score their health at a low rate, according to PBS NewsHour. This is because those who rated their health at a low rate were likely to be living with others (i.e. relatives) because their health was so poor they needed help, support and assistance, whereas those who didn’t require assistance were in good health.

Some of those who rated their physical health highly didn’t rate their mental health highly. However, it is a well-known fact that there is a link between mental and physical health.

Even though loneliness is a problem amongst the elderly in the United Kingdom, a little bit of solitude and ‘alone time’ is not necessarily a bad thing. Being independent is actually good for your mental health. Actually, there is a difference between being (or feeling) lonely and being introverted and needing time and space on your own. Those who like a little bit of solitude tend to be much more independent and self-sufficient.

Nevertheless, for elderly relatives, it is extremely imperative that they have a stable network of support and assistance around them should they require it: friends, family and support workers. However, if they require moments of solitude then that should also be taken into consideration. An environment that peaceful, tranquil and comfortable, and tailored to individual needs might be all that is required, and Barchester’s Hospitals provide a place of sanctuary for its patients, and this could be enough to help maintain one’s mental health and to keep the symptoms of common mental health disorders - such as depression and anxiety - at bay.

Furthermore, another way to strengthen mental health is to get involved in brain training activities. Studies have shown that completing puzzles - such as word searches, crosswords, quizzes, chess and sudoku - can keep your mind active and can reduce the likelihood of developing dementia. Barchester’s complex care services offer a variety of activities and music therapy in order to keep the patients and clients physically and mentally healthy, and to keep their minds active during the day.

Ultimately, for those in old age, mental health is just as vital as physical health, and the two are equally important, but a little bit of solitude can help.