Mental Health Last updated on 2023-05-11 16:32:28
Mental Health in Older Mothers: The Hidden Struggles and Overlooked Solutions
- Ms. Snigdha Samantray
- 5 Min Read
- Fact Checked
The mental health needs of older mothers, 60 years and above, are often overlooked, but they are just as important as their physical health needs. Many women in this age group face significant life changes, such as retirement, the loss of a spouse or loved ones, and declining health, resulting in mental health issues that prevent them from enjoying this so-called “golden period” to the fullest. Studies have shown that poor mental health can lead to physical health problems. Mental health issues can weaken the immune system, increase the risk of heart disease, and even shorten lifespan. For older mothers aged 60 and above, maintaining good mental health is crucial to maintaining good physical health. While depression, anxiety, and loneliness are common mental health issues, there are other lesser-known struggles, as discussed below, that can affect the mental well-being of older mothers aged 60 and above. 1) One such struggle is the fear of being a burden on loved ones. Many older mothers aged 60 and above feel that their children or other family members have already done enough for them and do not want to be a further burden. This fear can lead to feelings of guilt, isolation, and even depression. It's essential for many older mothers aged 60 and above to know that asking for help is not a burden and that their loved ones want to support them. 2) Another often-overlooked struggle is the impact of caregiving. Many older mothers aged 60 and above are caregivers for their own aging parents or spouses. This role reversal can be stressful and emotionally draining, leading to feelings of burnout, anxiety, and depression. 3) The empty nest syndrome, the feeling of sadness, loneliness, and loss that comes with children leaving home, can have a significant impact on the mental health of many older mothers aged 60 and above. They may experience a sense of purposelessness and loss of identity and feel disconnected from their family. This can lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. 4) For many older mothers aged 60 and above, the fear of one’s own death & death of a spouse can be a significant source of anxiety and distress, impacting their overall mental health. This fear can be rooted in several concerns, including leaving loved ones behind, the unknown afterlife, and the loss of control over one's life. It can lead to a sense of hopelessness and a decline in well-being. 5) Stress-induced pain is a common issue experienced by many older mothers aged 60 and above. As a result of the challenges discussed above, chronic stress is a very common experience in older mothers and is known to be a major contributor to the development and worsening of pain conditions such as arthritis or fibromyalgia. Additionally, stress-induced pain can have a significant impact on the physical and mental well-being of older mothers. It can limit their mobility, affect their mood, and make it challenging to perform daily tasks. Many older women have reported experiencing Psychogenic pain, a type of pain that has no identifiable physical cause and is believed to be rooted in psychological factors such as stress, anxiety, or depression. It is important for healthcare providers to recognize the potential for psychogenic pain in older mothers and to provide appropriate psychological interventions such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, mindfulness-based stress reduction, or relaxation techniques to manage the pain effectively. The good news is that mental health issues are treatable, and there are ways to improve mental health and well-being. Here are some Tips for Maintaining Good Mental Health for 60+ Mothers:
1) Stay ActiveStaying active is essential for both physical and mental health. Regular exercise can help reduce stress and anxiety, improve mood, and increase energy levels. Exercise can also help improve physical health, which can positively impact mental health. The good news is that exercise doesn't have to be intense. Going for a daily walk, practicing yoga, or swimming are all great ways to stay active and improve mental health.
2) Stay connectedLoneliness and social isolation can significantly impact mental health. Staying connected with loved ones can help prevent loneliness and provide a support system during difficult times. Even if physical distance separates loved ones, technology can help bridge the gap. Video calls, phone calls, and social media can all be used to stay connected.
3) Volunteering & staying engagedVolunteering is an excellent way to give back to the community and help others, but it also has mental health benefits. Volunteering can provide a sense of purpose, increase self-esteem, and reduce feelings of loneliness. Additionally, volunteering can provide opportunities to meet new people and learn new skills. Engaging in meaningful activities like knitting, gardening, or picking up long-lost hobbies can provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment, which is essential for mental well-being.
4) Practice self-careSelf-care is essential for mental health at any age, but it's particularly important for 60+ mothers. Practicing self-care can help reduce stress, improve mood, and promote relaxation. Self-care can be as simple as taking a warm bath, reading a book, or listening to music. Taking time for oneself can also help prevent burnout and increase resilience.
5) Leverage technologyIn today's digital age, older mothers aged 60 and above can leverage technology to improve their mental health and overall well-being. With the widespread use of smartphones, tablets, and other digital devices, these women have access to a wealth of mental health resources, including therapy apps, online counseling sessions, and support groups. Furthermore, many wellness and meditation apps are available to help reduce stress and promote relaxation. Wearable devices such as fitness trackers and smartwatches can also provide valuable feedback on physical activity levels, sleep quality, and heart rate, enabling mothers to monitor their overall health better. Social media platforms can serve as an avenue to connect with friends, family, and other individuals who share similar experiences, providing a sense of community and support. By tapping into these technological tools and resources, older mothers aged 60 and above can prioritize their mental health and well-being, enabling them to lead more fulfilling and enjoyable lives.
6) Seek professional helpIf mental health issues are impacting daily life significantly and affecting sleep and appetite, then seeking professional help is essential. Therapy, medication, or a combination of both can help alleviate symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. It's essential to remember that seeking help is not a sign of weakness but rather a sign of strength and self-awareness. Finally, it's important to understand that mental health is just as important as physical health. It's time to recognize the hidden struggles of many older mothers aged 60 and above and provide the support they need to thrive in their golden years. The golden years should be a time for relaxation and enjoying life, and taking care of mental health can help make that a reality.
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