The Mindful Ageing News
Article by Lucy Jenkins
Collectively, we spend a significant amount of our working lives looking to retire. Saving, investing, downsizing houses, planning holidays and selecting hobbies. Patiently waiting to have time to kill. But this rosy view of retired life is rarely all it seems.
No one simply ages out of life's stresses. Life’s challenges change as we grow. And as the population of Europe ages at an unprecedented rate, we find ourselves unequipped to deal with the unique challenges this presents us with. According to 2018 data from the EU commission, people aged 65+ will increase from 29.6% of the EU citizens in 2016, to 51.2% in 2070. Faced with this data, it is both timely and important that we future-proof ourselves, maintaining our physical and mental health. As well as our equally important social networks.
Seniors face intersecting challenges; gender, age, ethnicity and sexuality bias, lower income, material deprivation, widowhood, and geographical (location) barriers. In combination with real physical deterioration, such as the very daunting loss of mobility, and mental or sensory impairment. Thus making retired people some of the most marginalised and dependent groups in society; generating an abundance of mental health issues, spanning from low self esteem, to anxiety, to depression and paranoia.
UK Charity group - Mental health foundation estimate that depression affects around 22% of men and 28% of women aged 65 years and over, yet approximately 85% of older people with depression receive no help at all from the NHS. Older people tend to be more reluctant to talk about their emotions; which may be attributed to the widely held idea that mental health decline is part of ageing. Stigma that we must collectively break as the population ages, as we age ourselves.
Dementia is another growing concern as the population lives longer than ever before. To soften the effects of this progressive disease, we must reiterate the importance of living well into later life. Exercise, socialising and mindfulness exercises have been linked to memory retention and increased wellbeing.
Older members of society should not feel marginalised, we have much to offer our communities at any age, as well as the right to a happy life. Raising awareness of the benefits of talking about mental health in older people will destigmatise the issue. The Mindful Ageing project aims to promote a healthy lifestyle for individuals aged 50+. The overall goal is to help older people, from before retirement age as well as after, to develop a positive mindset towards ageing and take an active approach to well-being.