Combatting Negative Thinking in Seniors

A sad reality of getting older is the loss of cognitive functions because of this, negative thinking in seniors can occur. According to The Alzheimer’s Society “there is evidence that psychological factors such as anxiety, depression and stress could increase the risk of developing dementia.” In a study done by The University College London, Dr Merchant found that these psychological factors may prohibit new memories from forming and leave the brain more susceptible to memory disorders. As caregivers, recognizing ways to lessen these negative emotions or thoughts is crucial. Even a small detail can cause seniors to switch into a negative mindset.


First off, think about where that negative thought may have stemmed from, are they feeling lonely, frustrated, or depressed? Dr. Dossett from The American Institute of Stress (AIS) says “Stressors that tend to affect seniors are the loss of a loved one; too much unstructured time on your hands; a change in relationships with children; or a loss of physical abilities, such as vision, hearing, balance, or mobility,” These stressors can cause a strain on the brain and hinder daily activities. That is why encouraging seniors to stick with their daily routine is important. Talking about stressors and providing support can lessen these feelings. Offering a way for someone to talk out how they are feeling, gives them a sense of being heard and valued. Another way to combat negative feelings is to look at these thoughts with them. Find a solution in what they are saying. This way, a negative turns into something positive. The hope is to slowly change the original thought process and increase optimistic outcomes.


It is vital to note that negativity can point to signs of a health problem like a UTI or depression.” If the person has a sudden and unexplained change in their behavior, such as increased confusion, agitation, or withdrawal, this may be because of a UTI” states an article written by The Alzheimer Society. If negativity is frequent, and there is a drastic change in behavior consulting a doctor is recommended to rule out any serious issues.


Now more than ever it is essential to be aware of negative thoughts seniors may experience because of the current COVID-19 Pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) stated that depression and anxiety symptoms have increased at least 31 percent since the pandemic began. Since COVID-19 predominantly affects the senior population, addressing fears and worries is key to providing peace of mind for those who are struggling mentally.


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