Depression is a serious mental health condition that can affect people at any age. Time reports that one in three people from age 50 to 80 feels lonely and that such feelings of isolation are linked with serious health issues, including a higher risk of stroke, heart attack, and depression. If you suspect that you are experiencing symptoms of depression, don’t delay in getting help. Follow the tips below to get back on track toward a healthier, happier life.

Maintain social contacts

Research has found that social activities may help combat depression later in life. If you are retired, you may immediately lose the daily social contact that working with other people gave you. You can make up for this loss by getting out to see friends and family. You can also join a book club or participate in local church activities. You can even put your career skills to use as a volunteer; for instance, if you were an English teacher, you can tutor ESL for adults. Or you could even start your own business or take on a side gig to earn some extra income and spend more time around people. If you’re planning on starting a business as a senior, Zenbusiness recommends doing something you love, familiarizing yourself with the latest technology, and having an exit plan in place.  SendaRide is a transportation company that contracts with and pays seniors to drive their own car and provide rides for other seniors to medical appointments, church, the grocery store and fitness centers.  This might be a great option to earn money and stay socially active with others.

If your mobility is limited because of illness or injury, there are other ways to maintain your connections to the outside world. You can have friends and relatives visit you. If they are far away, look to technology to get the human interaction you crave. The GrandPad is a tablet specifically designed for seniors. It eliminates the confusing clutter of apps you don’t need, and focuses on the essential tools, like video chatting.  SendaRide can also provide transportation for seniors. Schedule rides through their app or book by calling a Customer Service Representative at (800) 731-1885.

Eat a healthy senior-friendly diet

What you eat doesn’t just impact physical aspects like your waistline, it also plays a role in your mental well-being. For instance, research has shown that the breakdown of the billions of bacteria in your intestinal tract can influence depression. The numbers of Coprococcus and Dialister bacteria are found to be low in individuals with depression. Taking probiotics can help introduce more “good” bacteria to your gut.

A healthy diet will give your body the vitamins and minerals it needs to maintain a normal function and keep you energized. Since you are retired, you have the time to learn some new recipes. Cooking can be something you enjoy instead of a tedious task at the end of a long workday. Make the most of this newfound freedom by mastering quick and healthy meals for seniors. Try a probiotic yogurt parfait with berries for breakfast, for example, or grilled Alaskan salmon for dinner.

Engage in regular exercise to nurture body and mind

Regular exercise can likewise help keep you healthy in both body and mind. Multiple studies have shown that physical activity prevents depression. It produces endorphins, a feel-good neurotransmitter, in the brain. When scoping out potential exercise programs, look for senior-friendly options like cycling and water aerobics. These activities don’t stress joints like the knees and ankles.

Going to a fitness center with other like-minded seniors can be a great way to get out of the house and in contact with people while also staying fit. Many gyms also offer group fitness courses, which can be a fun change of pace. Scope out senior-friendly gyms that will accommodate your needs. Such age-friendly facilities will be more likely to offer the types of fitness programs you want.

Find a mental health counselor who suits your needs

Medicare covers a number of outpatient mental health wellness programs, from depression screenings to psychotherapy and even family counseling. You can even look into holistic counseling if you prefer. If you’re looking for more coverage, consider upgrading to a Medicare Advantage plan to get the care you need. Once you have the appropriate plan, you can take advantage of counseling services and wellness programs from reputable providers.

Your retirement years are meant to be enjoyed, so don’t let depression get in the way. Signs of depression include feelings of sadness, trouble sleeping, loss of interest in normal activities, and agitation or restlessness. If you notice such symptoms, refer to these guidelines for help. Along with the assistance of a mental health professional, these tips can support you on your journey to getting better.

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