How Senior Living at V!VA Retirement Communities Benefits Senior Mental Health
Published on January 7, 2022
The state of mental health, particularly in seniors, has declined significantly since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to research from the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA), about 43% of adults in their 50s and older have experienced varying levels of depressive disorder symptoms since the beginning of the pandemic. The problem was significantly heightened in situations where seniors were living alone during the lockdown periods.
The study also found that loneliness, especially from living in isolation for extended periods of time, was one of the leading causes of depression in seniors during the pandemic. Family conflicts and disagreements were also found to be a major source of stress. The question remains, what is the best solution when it comes to preserving and maintaining senior mental health in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and beyond?
Important Senior Mental Health Issues
Mental health issues affect people of all ages in different ways. But seniors living alone are more likely to experience feelings of loneliness and isolation. Here are some of the most important senior mental health issues that need to be aptly addressed and managed.
Loneliness and isolation are among the most significant contributing factors to depression and anxiety in older adults. Over the course of the pandemic, especially during the lockdown periods that took place during March 2020, researchers found that social isolation along with family conflicts regarding caregiving practices, was one of leading causes of depression in Canadian seniors. Lack of social participation coupled with the fear and anxiety of contracting and transmitting the COVID-19 virus seemed to only add fuel to the fire, even after things started to open back up.
Cognitive impairment in seniors entails so much more than just memory loss, although that is one of the most common factors. Oftentimes, seniors with cognitive impairment disorders get easily confused and disoriented. In some cases, they may even have violent tendencies and be a danger to themselves and those around them. This can be difficult to deal with for caregivers who don’t have the appropriate experience, resources, or support.
Aside from memory loss, cognitive impairment can seriously impact the lives of older adults in the following ways:
- Drastic mood swings from one minute to the next
- Inability to care for themselves (e.g., going to the bathroom, forgetting to pay monthly bills, cleaning their homes, etc.)
- Personality changes that result in feelings of confusion, fearfulness, suspicion, and even violence against themselves and others
General Anxiety Disorder
General anxiety disorder is one of the most common types of anxiety experienced by older adults. It’s the constant feeling of worry or anxiousness even in the absence of recognizable or obvious stressors. Seniors who are diagnosed with GAD have typically experienced some type of a traumatic event in their lives such as a bad fall or the death of a loved one and are constantly worried that it’s going to happen again even if there’s no reason to worry. GAD effects people in different ways, but it’s usually diagnosed in people who experience constant states of anxiety for numerous consecutive days over a period of at least six months.
Common symptoms of GAD include an increased heart rate, difficulty concentrating, hyperventilation, constant sense of impending danger or doom, gastrointestinal problems, heavy sweating, trembling, irritability, and constantly feeling nervous or on edge.
How Senior Living Communities Help Boost Mental Health
Senior living communities can help offset a lot of the feelings of loneliness and isolation that plague older adults. They offer a number of community events that present seniors with opportunities to learn new skills, discover new hobbies to fill their time, and socialize with other people their age and in similar circumstances. Here are some of the senior living mental health benefits that are made possible at V!VA Retirement Communities across Ontario.
A Sense of Belonging
There’s no greater feeling than that of belonging to a community full of like-minded individuals who come from all walks of life. The part of your life where you’re responsible for working and raising a family may be over, but retirement living starts a new chapter. Retirement living and actively participating in a community makes seniors feel like they’re a part of something bigger than themselves because they are.
Safety and Comfort
You’ve heard the saying “there’s safety in numbers”. Retirement communities have ample security resources and systems in place to protect Community Members at all hours of the day and night. Plus, medical staff and caregivers are always available and on-call to attend to specific health and daily requirements of all seniors. This includes administering medications on time, completing routine errands, and assisting seniors with daily tasks.
Improved Socialization and Community Engagement
Seniors living alone typically don’t have access to regular socialization and community engagement opportunities. Oftentimes, they can’t drive themselves around and public transportation is too dangerous for those living with cognitive impairment.
Retirement communities offer a variety of social events such as skill learning classes, parties, celebrations, and group activities that allow seniors to actively participate and engage in community initiatives.
Full-Scale Mental Health Support
Retirement communities have access to a much wider range of mental health support resources and services for seniors than at-home caregivers. Seniors with mental health conditions require varying levels of care. Staff members are fully trained to administer medications, recognize various types of conditions and their symptoms, and respond quickly and appropriately to alleviate mental health-related episodes.
V!VA Retirement Communities Seniors Mental Health Initiative
Seniors living in Ontario can rest assured that V!VA Retirement Communities is here to take good care of them. V!VA is committed to preserving both the physical and mental well-being of our Community Members. That’s why we have an extensive mental health initiative in place called V!VA Values Seniors’ Mental Health featuring a three-pronged objective:
Raise awareness about mental health issues facing seniors
Provide seniors and loved ones with relevant resources and educational materials
Raise funds for local organizations that support the mental health of seniors across Ontario
Click here to learn more!