Caring for Our Elders - Older Adult Mental Health Day 2019

This week I would like to focus on the question how does someone promote resilience in older adulthood? During my lifetime professional and personal I have had the opportunity to be raised by generations of elders these relationships were rich and often buffered the adversity of my youth.

The key ingredient to resiliency for anyone at any stage of life is relationships, but when our elders experience suffering due to Dementia, Alzheimer's, Osteoporosis, Parkinson's, Cancer or Depression it challenges our reserves as caregivers. This challenge comes at a time when relationships are needed the most; however, often a caregiver’s response to the suffering is to withdraw, isolate and feel overwhelmed.

By 2030 the United States Census Bureau indicates there will be nearly 75 million Americans over age 65. A 2012 study from the Institute on Medicine found nearly one-in-five older Americans have one or more mental health/substance use conditions. This correlates to 1 in 5 readers of this blog who may be reading this because they are professionals treating older adults or are concerned that their family members or spouses have a mental health condition.

So, back to the challenge staying resilient in times of suffering and what to do if you want to thrive not just survive? What do you do when your instinct is to retreat, isolate or withdraw? Research has shown that positive psychology practices like gratitude, meditation practices, exercise and social supports can build the reserves of resilience for caretakers and the older adult.

These are all discussion that need to be sparked through Older Adult Mental Health Awareness Day so ask the questions and start a conversation in our comment section.

Nikki Baker