Best activities for seniors’ mental health

Exercise, Tai chi and qigong, self-help through books (bibliotherapy), computer-based therapies or computer games, and reminiscing on the challenges a senior has overcome in life came out tops as the most effective activities for improving the emotional well-being of older people. These activities were detailed in a new booklet (left) developed for aged care workers to help them identify and protect the mental health of older Australians.

Said beyondblue’s CEO Georgie Harman, “Around one in 10 older adults experiences depression and a similar number experiences anxiety. Mental health conditions are even more common among older people in the community who are frail and need support to remain at home, and among those in residential care. Research shows nearly 35 percent of people living in residential care facilities have depression.”

Based on La Trobe University research, the booklet titled “What works to promote emotional wellbeing in older people” has been produced by beyondblue, an organisation that helps the Australian community understand depression and anxiety, and empowers them to seek help. The booklet rates the various activities on a scale of zero to three for how effective they are at improving older people’s mental health (including memory problems and depression) in both community and residential care settings, and also identifies other activities such as gardening, art therapy and craft, animals and pet therapy, volunteering, relaxation activities like meditation, and more. This rating is based on how many studies within the past 15 years have been found that the activity is effective, meaning anyone using the booklet can have the confidence in the ratings.

These activities are accompanied by case studies across Australia, providing examples of how activities have been implemented and the impact they have had. It also addresses how each activity is meant to work, considerations and recommendations.

* The booklet is available HERE.


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