“I live for my grandsons now. They give my life purpose. Kids have a way of bringing us back to what's important.”
Becoming older brings life changes—more time for family, friends, travel, hobbies, and other things you have wanted to do.
You or your loved one might be experiencing other changes as well. These may include different living conditions, relationships, mental and physical health issues, and ability to self-care. It is important that you continue to look after yourself.
As you get older you can experience many changes– from lifestyle to physical and mental health changes. Your wellbeing is as important now as at any other stage of life.
If you feel that you need to talk to someone about how to best manage all of these changes, it's okay to reach out for help. Asking for support from a family member, friend, or anyone you trust is a positive first step. You may find this information on seeking support helpful.
The resources on this page have ideas on how to look after your mental health and wellbeing.
Supporting another person
If you are supporting an older person in your life, it’s useful to be aware of some of the major areas of stress for them. These include physical health struggles, social isolation, lack of access to treatment, changing living arrangements, and financial stresses.
Common causes of stress include changes in relationships, and the experience of grief and loss of their independence, working life, and mobility, among others.
Try to find out what can bring comfort and a renewed sense of hope and joy in the life of the older person in your life that you love or are caring for. This, combined with finding ways to help them stay physically active and socially engaged, can help build good mental health. Encourage embracing healthy ageing. This can be from how you show compassion, communicate support, care and sit with the person. Simple practical ways to show you care are a phone call, to dropping off shopping, writing a letter, sharing a joke or a picture. Talking to the person you love or are caring for can help them to feel connected, even if they are not able to respond to you.
In supporting an older person, it is important to look after yourself as well. Take a look at our pages on support for carers and how to support someone.
We also have resources below with information on how to look after an older person in your life.
A closer look
Your brain can continue to make new connections with mental exercise
Memory loss is one of the most concerning changes for ageing people, and more than 340,000 Australians are diagnosed with dementia. But there are many ways you can exercise your mind – like learning a new language, skill, or hobby. With healthy ageing, memory loss will not interfere with everyday life in a major way. Changes in the brain might not affect quality of life if there is still social connection, some independence, and enjoyable activities. (Source 1) (Source 2)
SOCIAL ISOLATION CAN HAVE PROFOUND EFFECTS
Researchers have determined social isolation as being a major contributing factor in serious ill-health for the elderly. They compare the impact of social isolation on a person’s health to that of a smoker. Social isolation needs to be taken into consideration with all aspects of care for elderly persons and mental illness. Simply spending time with an older person may do them a world of good. (Source 1) (Source 2)
Depression in older people
Depression is the most common mental health disorder among the aged and elderly, followed by schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. At least half of older people live with hypertension and diabetes. 10-15% of older people in the wider community experience depression. Becoming older can compound tendencies of depression experienced earlier in life. (Source)
Social togetherness is one of the most powerful influencers of wellbeing
Researchers have found feeling included in a community group to be a major contributing factor in mental health and emotional wellbeing in seniors. Social activities like tai chi, group physical movement, music, and singing can contribute greatly to improving overall mental health. (Source 1) (Source 2) (Source 3)
You might find online and phone-based mental health resources helpful. Some suggestions are below. You can find more with our Search tool (opens in a new tab).