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An older couple walking in the woods

The silent generation

Older adults and mental health
By Dr. Rhonda Collins
Revera was the first company in the Canadian senior living sector to appoint a Chief Medical Officer. In her blog series, Dr. Rhonda Collins offers helpful advice for seniors to lead healthy and fulfilling lives.

Mental health is a difficult subject for many to talk about. The stigma surrounding mental and emotional health often forces people to keep their suffering to themselves. Despite recent movements to normalize conversations about it, society has not yet reached the point where the majority of people feel comfortable about reaching out for help or support. This is particularly true for older adults, who suffer from the highest suicide rate of any demographic.
“Speaking about one’s challenges can often lead to someone seeking help and most importantly it lets them know they have support from someone who cares.”

It’s a misconception that seniors have a predisposition to become depressed in their later years. In fact, studies show that people over the age of 60 are less likely to experience a major depressive disorder than the general population. However, many seniors undergo major life changes later in life, such as retirement, loss of a partner or friends, and changing health needs, that they may find difficult. Social isolation is also a major factor that could lead to depression.

As we age, it’s important that we take steps to recognize changes in our lives and how they are impacting us. It’s also important to ensure you continue to lead a fulfilling life. These could include:

  • Maintaining a healthy lifestyle
  • Keeping regular social engagements
  • Continuing a strong relationship with friends and family
  • Pursuing your interests

An important message to remember is that if you don’t feel like yourself or you notice someone else may be experiencing some difficult times, say something. Speaking about one’s challenges can often lead to someone seeking help and most importantly it lets them know they have support from someone who cares. Don’t allow mental health and depression to remain a hidden problem among older adults.

If you or someone you know is experiencing depression or is contemplating suicide, seek the support you need. Information and resources can be found through the Canadian Coalition for Seniors’ Mental Health.

Dr. Rhonda Collins, Chief Medical Officer of Revera
By Dr. Rhonda Collins
Dr. Rhonda Collins brings passion and expertise in memory care, dementia, falls prevention and clinical quality improvement to the role of Revera’s Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Collins is a family physician with a certificate of added competence in Care of the Elderly from the College of Family Physicians of Canada.