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May 4, 2023 Health & Wellness

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

In the past 30 years, mental health has been at the forefront of overall health for older adults.  In the past, speaking about mental health was taboo.  Many of us have struggled or know someone who has struggled with mental health issues.

Life changes and health issues affect everyone. With older adults, sometimes these life changes and health issues lead to isolation and loss of social connections. The COVID-19 pandemic also led to isolation and the loss of social connections, and we need to rebuild the activities and connections that were lost during this time.  Little by little, we are seeing these things return, which is great news!

The pandemic also created another level of mental health concerns that we maybe hadn’t recognized before. Many people decided not to seek mental health support from their health care providers during the pandemic for a variety of reasons. If this is you, or someone you love, reach out for support. It’s so very important!

Here are some tips that might help support you:

  1. Have a plan! Routine is very important. Start each day the same or similar day to day.  Get up at the same time, get out of bed, get dressed, and face the day.
  2. Physical activity. Exercise is very important for everyone. It has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety.
  3. Eat regularly. The first meal of the day can set you up in a positive way. Remember to eat what is best for you and your current health.
  4. Stay connected. Researchers have shown that loneliness and social isolation can have a negative impact on older adults’ health. Doctors have been advocating the benefits of social activities and getting out of the house to socialize.
  5. Find something that inspires you. Creativity is great for brain health. Look for things that spark your interest such as crafts, reading, playing cards, scrapbooking, or any other things that spark your interest. Many older adults find that keeping a journal or writing about their past experiences has brought joy, as they reminisce about the past.  It is also wonderful to share with family members, it is a way to share your past with family now and it will also leave a precious keepsake once you are gone.We all know that sleep is important to both physical and mental health. Good sleep helps the body heal both mentally and physically.
  6. Finally, follow up with your physician! Do not be afraid to ask for help with your mental health struggles. It is no longer taboo to talk to a professional about your mental health.  When you go for your yearly Medicare yearly wellness visit, talk to your doctor or other health care provider about changes in your mental health since your last visit. Please be honest, they are there to help.

Medicare does cover mental health treatment.  Check with your insurance to understand your specific coverage.

Concerns have been reported to the Senior Medicare Patrol related to mental health coverage fraud.  Please click this link to learn more about what to look out for before the fraud happens to you and what to do if you feel that you are subject to Medicare fraud.