Quad Cities, IL/IA

Working with the community... for a healthier community.

Emotional Wellness


“Life is better when you’re laughing.” — Unknown

By Monte Schwartz, Transition Specialist, LivWell Seniors, LLC

The above quote might be of unknown origin, so to speak, but any of us could have said it, and it is surely recognized and known as a truism by all. Life can be tough: full of worries, doubts, and ups and downs. It’s tough to smile through it all, but how much better do things go when we can keep a positive attitude as much as possible, keep things in perspective, and keep ourselves in emotional balance?

We know that our health can become compromised as we get older, from the minor aches and pains to the more major complications. This can also be true of our emotional health. Major life changes often lead to emotional distress, and many elderly are faced with nothing if not major life changes — loss of friends and loved ones, increased isolation, dwindling financial resources, downsizing to a new residence or to a senior living community, etc.

Besides these seemingly more obvious and tangible factors, some seniors that I know or have worked with have shared with me other fears and anxieties that they have. Though already raised, they still worry about their kids and families. Some of them have regrets or guilt that they carry from the past, which often carries with it a hope for forgiveness and reconciliation within the family. Others have complained to me that they feel “invisible” or “unappreciated,” their “useful” years behind them, and their voices no longer heard. Added to that is our society’s glorification of youth and trying to stay young at any cost. Given that, when time inevitably catches up with us, it’s hard to feel anything but depressed and anxious about it.

That’s the crux of the matter. The challenges and uncertainties seniors face often leave them emotionally vulnerable as well. Not surprisingly, experiencing diminished feelings of self-worth and being overly focused on the negative only accentuates any problems they are facing. One study, for example, conducted by researchers from Yale, Harvard, and Miami (Ohio) Universities found that seniors who had a more positive outlook on aging lived an average of 7.5 years longer than those with more negative views. “Our study carries two messages,” they concluded. “The discouraging one is that negative self-perceptions can diminish life expectancy; the encouraging one is that positive self-perceptions can prolong life expectancy.”

So, what are some ways that seniors can improve their emotional wellbeing? As you might expect, many of the things that lead to improved physical health or improved health in general also improve a person’s emotional health, such as exercise and a good diet. Other suggestions include socialization, taking up hobbies, participating in activities, volunteering, getting a pet, journaling, and cultivating your spiritual life. Finally, experts warn against letting yourself get too overwhelmed. Feelings of being overwhelmed can be debilitating and make it hard to do anything. Just take things one thing and day at a time. Prioritize and make a list.

At any rate, here’s to a more enjoyable and emotionally vibrant life!  To a potentially longer and more satisfying life!  You owe it to yourself and all of your friends and loved ones.

LivWell Seniors serves as a local agency providing community-based resources that are 100-percent free to seniors and their families. They are funded by the senior care providers that utilize their service and network of connections. For further information, contact us at 563-265-1553, or visit our website at www.livwellseniors.com.