Shedding Light on Mental Health

Updated: Dec 14, 2021



The Little Boy and the Old Man (by Shel Silverstein)

Said the little boy, “sometimes I drop my spoon.”

Said the little old man, “I do that too.”

The little boy whispered, “I wet my pants.”

“I do too,” laughed the old man.

Said the little boy, “I often cry.”

The old man nodded. “So do I.”

“But worst of all,” said the boy,

“It seems grown-ups don’t pay attention to me.”

And he felt the warmth of a wrinkled old hand.

“I know what you mean,” said the little old man.

Aging is a fact of life. It starts at birth. For those of us lucky enough to make it through to our ‘golden’ years, we will come to experience some fruitful and empowering benefits that come with age. We become wiser, more confident and our priorities start to align, allowing us to truly embrace life’s precious moments without the worries of comparisons or trying to keep up with those around us. Our ‘golden’ years can provide us with the time to consolidate our adventures throughout our lifetime and to look back on the growth and happiness that we have worked hard to achieve. During this time we may also be given the privilege of watching our loved ones grow and achieve their own goals and happiness in life. Although there are amazing benefits that come with age, there are some more difficult aspects that will need to be faced.

One of the very obvious but often sidestepped aspects of aging is the degeneration of the body. Slow and often unnoticed for long periods of time, use over time begins to take its toll.

Skin wrinkles and seems papery, hair changes in volume, bone structure weakens, nails look different, eyesight dims and hearing becomes difficult at times. Our image of the self changes. The fact is: with use and age the cells in our body just cannot multiply as easily and quickly as before.

We enter a new period in our lives. Not suddenly, not overnight.

No, it seems to creep up on us until one day, we realise, the steps leading up to the coffee shop are a hurdle. We know the knees will be creaking on the way up and even more so on the way down. The ladder into the swimming pool is treacherous - coming out of the water, each step needs careful consideration and placement of the feet; family gatherings become a cacophony of noise, the children’s voices are hard to distinguish, our memory is not what it used to be and some words are difficult to retrieve.


Oh what a difficult and painful transition.

The expectations of Western society are such that everyone should look as beautiful, as young and well preserved as possible.

The smiles of the ‘golden age’ couples in the pictures we see gloss over and ignore the reality of dentures, of cataracts or the gnarly toes.


Rather than joining an exhausting, senseless race against time and nature which we cannot win, we hopefully realise sooner rather than later that we are getting old. The body changes. We need to adjust our mindset to it. Acceptance is key.


This needs to be repeated often, loudly and with a goodly sense of humour

ACCEPTANCE IS KEY!

The alternative to accepting age and its effects on the human body can be depression.


When depression hits because we feel not understood, lonely and alone with our worries and realisation that ‘this is as good as it gets’, then the ‘come on, pull yourself out of it!’ might help once or twice. But often the issue sits deeper and so we need to ask for help.

HELP! We need to ask loudly, clearly and directly. And repeatedly.

Help!

We need to speak up and make ourselves heard.

Our worries, our concerns about life, about the future, finances, our health and about what we should do are all relevant.

We are relevant.

We matter.

Depression and somber thoughts over time affect our physical health.

The essential first step is to acknowledge that there is an issue we are grappling with. That we need help


We can go for walks and enjoy what there is, we can meet peers and talk. We can volunteer and witness other lives; this might be just what we need to shine a different light on ours..


And then to work toward a solution that fits our needs.

What brings us joy is allowed, what doesn’t is to be avoided.

It’s that simple. But of course it isn’t - but we just know -

it could be!


We could help someone to read, or we could read to someone, or we could allow someone to read to us

We could walk along the beach or a footpath, take life one breath at a time

We could sing with a friend or alone, listen to music, dance or watch a movie…


The first step is to acknowledge that we are grappling with old age, with depression and with the whole 'schlamassel’ of it…

Facing this truth and talking about it with friends and family or a healthcare worker will point us in the right direction.

Yes, we can turn this around with the help of friends, family, and professionals.

Eventually we will find our way through the clouds of depression and walk our path the way we need to.


Depression can of course complicate any medical treatment, for instance that of heart disease, diabetes or stroke. In older adults, depression is seen as an inevitable result of life changes, chronic illness, and disability. This bias is so strong in Western society that as older adults we subconsciously may hold onto this viewpoint as well.


Remember that by doing our part in raising awareness, we can help shed light on these issues and make it easier for individuals who suffer mental health issues to seek the necessary help and treatment.


Apart from raising awareness, we all can further help alleviate depression and the darkness it brings by encouraging active participation in our communities and in society at large; by creating living conditions and environments that support wellbeing and allow a healthy lifestyle. The recognition and treatment of mental and neurological health issues is imperative. We need to reach out to each other, our family and loved ones to make sure that we are all doing okay, that we are all as well as can be. If you or your loved ones have any questions regarding elderly health care or would just like to start a conversation regarding concerns you may have, give RezCare a call on 0876543177. We realise the importance of providing the best care for the elders in our community and strive to achieve this.


We offer a service called ‘Back-A-Granny' which allows individuals to donate money in order to help those who do not have financial means to seek help. If you wish to be part of making a difference in someone's life, give us a call or visit us at the RezCare Lounge at 85 Main Road, Fish Hoek, Cape Town (South Africa).


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Article was written by Cornelia Bullen-Smith




Links to the resources used for this blog: https://assistinghands.com/blog/mental-health-awareness-for-seniors/https://www.cdc.gov/aging/pdf/mental_health.pdfhttps://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/ss/slideshow-aging-surpriseshttps://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/ageing-and-healthhttps://courses.lumenlearning.com/boundless-psychology/chapter/aging-late-adulthood/https://www.samhsa.gov/blog/bringing-awareness-mental-health-older-adultshttps://training.mmlearn.org/blog/bid/182813/mental-illness-in-seniors-are-they-suffering-in-silencehttps://www.healthinaging.org/a-z-topic/depression/basic-factshttps://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/older-adults-and-mental-healthhttps://www.seniorlifestyle.com/resources/blog/40-mental-health-resources-for-seniors/https://www.who.int/news-room/photo-story/photo-story-detail/ageing-and-life-course

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