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Mental wellbeing and ageing

Being mentally healthy is important as you age, as it can increase your capacity to live a healthy and fulfilling life. Changes to employment, lifestyle, and physical health can all influence mental health.

Studies examining the transition into older adulthood identified that the number of relationships typically decrease. In addition, life changes such as becoming empty-nesters, moving to a smaller house, losing a spouse and changes in health can disrupt socialising. It is also common for relocation to occur in retirement, and this can cause a loss of supportive friendships.

With a good support system and the Act Belong Commit principles, improving mental wellbeing and increasing levels of social connection is possible for older adults.

Act: Do something

Keep active – mentally, physically, socially, spiritually, culturally…

Being active across all aspects of life is a great way to be mentally healthy as you age. You could keep physically active through walking and exercise, or socially active through speaking to friends or family members.

Check out the Activity Finder for ways to keep active. You can search for activities such as skill-based classes and events, arts and crafts or group exercise. Many listings are often accessible and affordable (or free!)

Belong: Do something with someone

Keep connected – to friends, family and your community.

Being engaged with and feeling part of a community is a way to create a sense of belonging for yourself and others. Being connected is a way to improve your wellbeing and mental health.

Being socially connected is beneficial to psychological wellbeing and studies using samples of older adults found more social interaction was associated with reduced feelings of loneliness.

Informal social networks can support increased feelings of belonging for older adults. This can be achieved through spending more time with family and friends.

Intergenerational programs, such as those shown on ABC TV’s ‘Old People’s Home for Teenagers/4 Year Olds’ have also been found to enhance social connections between younger and older generations. Read this article to find out more about the benefits of mixing age groups.

Commit: Do something meaningful

Do something meaningful, important and valuable to you.

Using your free time to engage in activities that are meaningful can have a positive effect on your wellbeing. Research has shown links between higher levels of meaning in life and higher levels of positive emotions. These emotions include feelings of love, happiness, and vibrancy.

Being closely connected to children and grandchildren (and sometimes great-grandchildren) can contribute to meaningfulness, and regular visits from family members can also create feelings of support. A study of older adults found that connection to family provided a strong sense of meaning, particularly when it promoted feelings of safety and autonomy.

Feelings of meaning can also be achieved by doing activities with others such as volunteering or joining a group or cause that it is important to you.

Check out our new videos featuring some amazing people who are using the Act, Belong, Commit message to live a mentally healthy life as they age.