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Health and Wellbeing

The Importance of Elderly Mental Health and Blue Monday

Emily Trix Carver

Emily Carhan

11th January, 2023

illustration of elderly man isolated on top of the globe

Mental health is an essential issue at every stage of life, but it is especially important for elderly individuals to prioritise and address their mental well-being. Ageing can bring about many challenges and changes, such as the loss of loved ones, physical limitations, and changes in social roles and relationships. These experiences can sometimes lead to loneliness, isolation, and depression. 

It is difficult to determine the precise number of older adults in the UK who are affected by mental health issues, as mental health problems can be difficult to identify and may not always be reported or diagnosed. However, around 22% of men and 28% of women over the age of 65 experience depression, anxiety, or dementia. This figure may be higher among older adults who are living in institutional care settings, such as nursing homes.

men and women affected by depression, anxiety or dementia

Why the elderly can suffer from mental health issues

In 2021, 1 in 5 older British adults reported a mental health need. Elderly individuals may be at an increased risk for mental health issues due to a number of factors. For example, they may be more likely to experience the loss of loved ones, which can lead to feelings of grief and loneliness. They may also face physical limitations that prevent them from engaging in activities they once enjoyed, leading to boredom and frustration. Additionally, they may face changes in social roles and relationships, such as retiring from work and becoming more dependent on others for support, which can lead to feelings of loss of purpose and identity.

Loneliness is one of the largest health concerns facing the UK and is another problem for many older people. It is reported to increase risk of death by 26% and is considered worse for overall health than adult obesity. Not only that but loneliness is considered a risk factor for depression in later life, while loneliness and social isolation put individuals at a greater risk of cognitive decline and dementia.

Latest figures show that half a million older people go at least five or six days a week without seeing or speaking to anyone at all, while 3.9 million older people say that the television is their main source of company. By 2026, the number of over-50s experiencing loneliness is set to reach 2 million – an increase of 49% compared to the 1.4 million facing loneliness in 2016.

graphic showing increase in loneliness in people over the age of 50.

5 Signs that elderly people might be struggling with poor mental health

There are many potential reasons why older adults in the UK may experience mental health problems. Some of the most common factors that can contribute to mental health issues in older adults include:

  1. Physical health problems: Chronic physical health problems or disabilities can lead to mental health problems, as they can cause pain, discomfort, and a sense of loss of control.
  2. Social isolation: Older adults may experience social isolation due to the loss of loved ones, reduced mobility, or other factors. This can lead to feelings of loneliness and depression.
  3. Loss and grief: The loss of loved ones and other life changes, such as retirement or moving to a new location, can be difficult for older adults and can lead to grief and depression.
  4. Stress: Older adults may experience stress due to financial concerns, caregiving responsibilities, or other challenges.
  5. Dementia: Dementia is a common mental health problem among older adults, and it can cause a range of cognitive and behavioural symptoms.

Maintaining your mental health

There are steps that elderly individuals can take to promote their mental well-being, however. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Stay connected with loved ones: Social connections are important for mental health at any age. Elderly individuals should make an effort to stay in touch with friends and family, whether through in-person visits, phone calls, or video chats.
  2. Engage in activities that bring joy: It's important to find activities that bring happiness and purpose, whether that's gardening, reading, volunteering, or spending time with pets.
  3. Seek professional help if needed: It's okay to seek help from a mental health professional if feelings of sadness, loneliness, or other mental health concerns persist. A therapist or counsellor can provide support and coping strategies to help manage difficult emotions.
  4. Take care of physical health: Physical health and mental health are closely linked. Elderly individuals should make sure to get regular exercise, eat a healthy diet, and get enough sleep to promote overall well-being.
  5. Get outside: Spending time outdoors, even in the winter months, can help improve mood and reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation.

By taking care of their mental health, elderly individuals can improve their quality of life and enjoy their golden years to the fullest. It's important to remember that seeking help is not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of strength and self-care.

DPR - Blue Monday_Infographic 03.jpg

The importance of Blue Monday

Blue Monday, which is traditionally held on the third Monday of January, has been dubbed the "most depressing day of the year." It is often associated with feelings of sadness and despair due to the combination of cold weather, post-holiday blues, and the difficulty of sticking to New Year's resolutions. While the concept of Blue Monday has been largely debunked by scientists as a marketing ploy, the winter months can still be a particularly challenging time for many people, including elderly individuals, due to the lack of sunlight and increased social isolation. 

The concept of Blue Monday has gained widespread attention and has been used to highlight the importance of mental health and well-being. Blue Monday serves as a reminder that it is normal to have ups and downs in our mood, and that it is important to take care of our mental health and well-being all year round. It is also a reminder that it is okay to seek help if we are struggling with our mental health, and that there are many resources and supports available to help us cope with difficult times.

Verity, Marketing Director at Oak Tree Mobility comments “Our older population are often called the ‘Silent Generation’, but it’s important for them to remember that asking for help or admitting they might be lonely is not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of strength and self-care.

"Asking for help or admitting they might be lonely is not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of strength"

Verity Kick, Marketing Director at Oak Tree Mobility

“By making their mental health as much of a priority as their physical health, it is possible for elderly adults to improve their quality of life and enjoy their golden years to the fullest. A change of pace doesn’t have to mean an entire loss of lifestyle, rather just a soft adjustment to what’s possible within the changing parameters.” 


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