As we enter the colder and darker winter months, it can be harder than ever to look after our health and wellbeing. It is more difficult to get out and about and the weather can seriously affect our mood.

However, we know that keeping active and engaged in something – whatever that may be – helps to give us a sense of purpose, which, in turn improves both our physical and mental health.

"There are very high success rates when older people get help via talking therapy."

There has always been a stigma around mental illness but in recent years it has dramatically reduced and we are having more open and honest conversations with each other about how we are really feeling. This is a huge improvement but it is unfortunately one that may well be leaving many older people behind; research suggests that our traditional reticence about mental ill health stops some older people from seeking help and that many with problems don’t know where to turn for help.

This is why we want to raise awareness of mental health issues and the triggers for it in later life. We know that there are very high success rates when older people get help via talking therapy so we want to encourage people to ask for help and to approach their GP as a first step.

 

Loneliness can impact mental health

 

We also know that around 1.3 million older people are chronically lonely, with big impacts on their mental health. There is, sadly, no easy or magic solution for loneliness but we all have the capacity to make a difference to the older people in our lives – the friends, relatives and neighbours who we don’t see or speak to enough.

"Taking part in creative activities had the most direct influence in improving wellbeing."

A simple phone call or visit, particularly during the festive season when feelings of loneliness can feel especially raw, can really lift the spirits of someone who is going through a difficult time.

Our vision is for people to love later life, to be able to live comfortably and to enjoy life to the full. Earlier this year, our Wellbeing in Later Life Index revealed that taking part in creative activities had the most direct influence in improving an older person’s wellbeing. This could mean dancing, playing a musical instrument, visiting museums, photography, singing, painting, writing and many more – above all it’s the taking part that matters.