How to Stay Mentally Healthy in Old Age

Yaneke Wright-Lewis
November 13, 2022

Though they're not a normal part of aging, mental health problems are common among seniors. These mental health issues include:

  • affective and anxiety disorders
  • dementia
  • psychosis
  • sleep and behavioral disorders
  • cognitive deterioration or confusion states 
  • depression

Amongst all the mental health issues in older people, depression is the most common. 

Depression causes tremendous suffering, including the inability to function in daily life. Older people with symptoms of depression can even fare worse than those with chronic medical conditions. That means depression at an advanced age can lead to poorer functioning than lung disease, hypertension, or diabetes. That's a big deal.

What Causes Depression in Older Adults?

Depression can be caused by:

  1. changes in the brain, which can affect an older adult's mood and result in depression.
  2. major life events, like the death of a loved one or an unexpected medical diagnosis.
  3. high stress levels, mainly due to caring for loved ones who are very ill or who have a disability. 

Research has also shown that other factors can increase the risk of depression without necessarily being the cause of depression. Here are some of them:

Medical conditions

Older adults with chronic medical conditions like stroke, heart disease, or cancer have higher rates of depression than those who are healthy. 

Other physical challenges can contribute to the development of depression in old age. For example, limited mobility due to frailty or fractures: some older adults relish mobility and its independence. If that independence is lost, depression can set in. For men, erectile dysfunction, ED, can be a source of worry, too.

Sleep problems

As you age, you are more likely to experience a decrease in deep sleep. Your sleep may also be more fragmented, and you will wake up more often at night. The result will be a less refreshing sleep experience.

Social isolation and loneliness

Research suggests that seniors suffer from disrupted personal ties and loneliness. That means losing family members and loved ones to death or migration can result in depression. Seniors can also suffer from regrets and fear of dying. 

Lack of exercise or physical activity

Physical activity eases symptoms of depression and makes you feel better. Exercise also helps keep depression from coming back.

How to Offset Depression in Old Age

Here are some healthy lifestyle changes you can make which can have long-term benefits for your mental health:

  1. Be physically active and eat a healthy, balanced diet. This may help avoid illnesses that can bring on disability or depression. Some diets have been shown to reduce the risk of depression.
  2. Get 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
  3. Research suggests that older people benefit from supportive social connections and close personal relationships. Translation? Stay in touch with friends and family!
  4. Participate in activities you enjoy. That may mean reviving an old passion or learning a new skill.
  5. Identify and treat physical illnesses. 
  6. Talk about it - let friends, family, and your physician know when you feel down. Don't forget to talk with God about it, too - He will give you His spirit of gladness!


Depression and anxiety: Exercise eases symptoms

Depression and Older Adults

Mental health of older adults

Get Started Today


Set Up Your Personalized Planner

Keep track of your WEALTH Goals & log your daily habits. Access your planner from any device, at anytime.

sign up for free


Enroll in the Wealth Builder Academy

Learn how to live an abundant life, without losing everything else in the process.

access for free


Join the Wealthy Way Community on Discord

Connect with other Wealth Builders in our community to network, learn, and grow.

join for free
Photo credit: