In later adult life, people frequently face new types of challenges, including physical health problems, financial insecurity and adaptation to life alone. The key challenge to the mental health and wellbeing of older people is the need to adapt successfully to the physical, social, interpersonal and psychological transitions that accompany ageing. To do so, building mental health and wellbeing in older adults must begin decades earlier.
Why mental health is important for older adults
- Having a positive outlook and maintaining control over one’s life are also frequently cited by older people themselves as key features of a good overall quality of life.
- Whilst most people remain fit and well into old age, significant numbers will experience some form of mental ill-health. Depression is the commonest type of mental ill-health in older adults.
- We need large scale policy initiatives to tackle discrimination, promote educational and employment opportunities and ensure availability of appropriate housing, services and support for older adults.
- NHSGGC’s Ageing Population Planning Group should consider systematic development and mainstreaming of The World Health Organization’s Global Age-friendly Cities’ framework, to ensure the right physical and social environment for an ageing population.
- Regular physical activity is the single most effective and cost-effective intervention available for enhancing physical, mental and social wellbeing in older adults. An action plan for increasing physical activity in older adults should be established across all NHSGGC localities.
- The NHS must show leadership in encouraging the active participation of older adults in planning our services, treating all older adults as individuals and challenging negative stereotyping where it exists.
- Given the projected increase in numbers of older people with dementia in NHS GG&C, the recommendations of the dementia convention should be supported and embedded consistently across all CHCPs.
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