In this episode of Senior Living LIVE!, Tabitha Wilson from Hope Counseling Centers joins us again to discuss small, tangible action items seniors can take to improve their mental health.

Video Transcript

- Hello, everybody, my name is Melissa. Thank you so much for being with us here on "Senior Living LIVE!" Today, we are discussing the benefits of positive mental health for seniors and ways you can take steps to improve your mental health with the start of this brand new year. Tabitha Wilson is with me today to take a deep dive into this topic. Hello, Tabitha, how are you this morning?

- Hey there, Melissa. I am well. Thank you so much for allowing me to come on your show. Such a pleasure to be here.

- Yeah, we're excited to tap into your knowledge about this topic in particular. But before we do that, let's talk a little bit about you. Can you tell us about yourself and your background?

- Sure, so I am not homegrown here in Atlanta. However, I have been here for the last 20 years. I am from Massachusetts. And so right now I am finishing up my master's degree in Clinical Mental Health. I'm in the clinical phase of it which means that all I do is see clients, group therapy, also individual therapy. So, I have a little girl, a little six-year-old who keeps me super busy along with school and along with seeing clients. So that's just a little bit about me.

- Yeah, I love it. And you're joining us for this topic. We have another topic with you. So, let's get started. The holidays, they're gone, they're behind us. Some people are like, "Yes, this is great." Some are like, "No, I love the holidays." But what we do know is after the holidays, there's such a lead up to it, that it can kind of be the blues for many people. January, February, we're inside more due to the weather and everyone is back to sort of that daily routine. What sort of problems do you see for seniors this time of year?

- Yeah, I'm glad that you mentioned that about the holidays because there's always the remnants that are left from the holidays that we see. And that could be due to memories that have come up, divorces, deaths and things of that nature that people really are struggling with and deal with during these winter months. Like you said, it's cold outside, nobody really wants to go out, right? It's normally dreary or gloomy in January except for now, it's beautiful out today. Like the sun is shining, but that's not typical for the winter months. And so some of that can definitely lead to some loneliness, some boredom. It can also lead to like feelings of isolation and also it can lead to depression.

- Yeah. And we say, try to get that vitamin D in if you can if you can't get out in the sun, because we love the sun and it is so helpful and we just don't get that as much this time of year.

- Right.

- So, let's start also by talking directly to our senior viewers, of course. What can they do each day to help improve their mental health? Like just small steps, what can they do?

- Yeah, so being physically active, doing something in the day, like getting up, getting out. I know it can be cold and things of that nature but getting your body moving can definitely help with your mental health. Getting enough rest. That is so important. A lot of times we think of taking care of our physical bodies and we forget about our mental health. And getting enough rest really does help with your mental health. It helps with clarity of mind and things of that nature. Playing games. Playing games for the mind, crossword puzzles, Mad Libs. I don't even know if they have those anymore, but games like that that they can do. Again, physical activity. And one of the biggest ones is gratitude. Staying positive. Find the smallest, minute things to be grateful for can have a tremendous impact on your mental health.

- Yeah, and that's when people talk about keeping a journal, a gratitude journal or something.

- Yeah.

- Just to remind you to keep that, maybe create a habit to be able to do that every single day. So,

- Yeah.

- great, great tips so far. So what can family and friends do to help ensure that all is well and depression isn't an issue for a senior loved one?

- Yeah, what a great question. I've heard that a lot. Like we get that question a lot. And so big picture, intentionality. What do I mean by that? Checking on your people. Listening for things that are in their voice, going beyond and connecting with them. Go visit. I was actually watching a TV show and there was a specific person that hadn't seen their loved one in two days because it wasn't something that was typical for them. And they went over to their house just to make sure that they're okay. So checking in on people, asking questions about how they're feeling, that connection, just talking, finding out about their day, offering some help, offering to take some people out, expressing any concern, showing that support. So that's something that loved ones really can get involved with when it comes to checking in on those that they love.

- Yeah, very specific and things that our viewers can jot down and enact now.

- Right.

- Get going with now.

- Yeah.

- So what are some signs that we can look for to help give us a guide that it might be time, perhaps, to seek additional help? Because what we're giving now is sort of surface things. But if somebody has a deeper issue, what can we do?

- Yeah. So one of the things is if there are stressors that are so overwhelming that it's impeding on the daily function. And those things can be whatever it is, that's not allowing you to function like you normally would during the day. If you're feeling depressed or unhappy or hopeless, if you are feeling anxious and worried, if you have some emotional outbursts that's not normal or typical for you, meaning, maybe the littlest things set you off and that's not something that you typically do during your day, that's not how you are as a person but it's starting to come up for you. If you're starting to have some specific sleep problems like, can't get to sleep. Things are just going on in my head and I cannot shut it down. If you're noticing any type of weight or appetite changes, overeating, undereating, those are things and signs to really look out for. Because now, it may be time to get some additional professional help.

- Yeah, yeah. Things that really impact our health in a major, major way.

- Yes.

- Yeah. Great. What is one final takeaway you'd like to leave our viewers with?

- Yeah, so I know that a lot of times the senior population is almost like a second thought, which is very unfortunate. But for the viewers, I just wanna let you know that your mental health matters because mental health happens for everybody and everybody has to engage in their mental health. And the reason why is because you absolutely matter.

- Absolutely. It's so simple. The words that you just said are so simple, but they're so impactful. And so I think that that is a great way to end this interview, to give the final takeaway for our viewers. Finally, if somebody has additional questions for you they wanna talk to you more about, mental health, anxiety, how can they get in touch with you?

- So they can email me any questions at any time. And my email is Tabitha, and that's my first name, T-A-B-I-T-H-A.wilson, W-I-L-S-O-N, @richmont, R-I-C-H-M-O-N-T.E-D-U. So

- Perfect. And you come across as very safe and comfortable and someone

- Thank you.

- that people can reach out to and talk to and field those things. So with all that said, we appreciate you coming on and joining us and sharing all of your knowledge with us. Thank you.

- Okay. Thank you so much.

- Thank you. And for our viewers, if you enjoyed this interview with Tabitha, you can go on our website, We'll have another video with her, all about anxiety, you'll wanna check that out. As always, we appreciate you all tuning in to "Senior Living LIVE!" Have a great day, everybody.


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