MSRN had a Lunch ‘n Learn at Mental Health Association of Maryland on May 7, 2019.  Kim Burton, who is a former member of MSRN, hosted the event.  The Topic was “The Brain and The Body: Understanding Connections for Mental Wellness, Illness and Recovery”

Lunch and networking from Noon till 12:30.  Then the program started.

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Kim talked about conditions that contribute to risk for the development of mental health disorder.  Many are very common as we age.  1) Isolation; 2) Loss of social and family support; 3) Feelings of helplessness and lack of control over personal situations; 4) Chronic illness such as heart disease, stroke, Parkinson’s, cancer, diabetes and condition that cause pain of restrict independence; 5) Poor nutrition; 6) Low vision and/or hearing loss; 7) lack of physical exercise; 8) hormonal changes; 9) Grief; 10) substance misuse and abuse; 11) damaged self-esteem; 12) negative thoughts; 13) caring for dependent person; 14) unsafe or unhealthy social conditions such as poverty, homelessness, community violence, living with distressed people, toxins, etc. Issues connected with the aging brain and how it affects the body:  there is a strong relationship between physical health and mental health.  though depression or anxiety may affect anyone, older adults suffering from chronic illnesses, chronic or severe pain or serious disability are at greater risk.  Symptoms of mental disorders can mimic symptoms of chronic health conditions.  There is a lack of culturally appropriate outreach, assessment and treatment strategies for the growing mental health needs of older people.

Suggestions for older people: Practice good self-care, eat nutritious meals, exercise every day and get good restful sleep.  Talk regularly with friends to remain connected.  Be truthful about how people can be of help.  Structure your time alone. Lose yourself in a favorite hobby.  Spend time alone in nature, in meditation and/or in prayer.  Do something to help someone else.  Allow yourself to experience the full range of emotions.

The Mental Health Association of Maryland’s website provides a copy and support materials for the Mental Health Advance Directive.  Visit: www.mhamd.org/getting-help/adults/advance-directives.

The National Institute of Health’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke maintains a website that gives in depth information regarding several different types of dementia as well as information on mixed dementia findings.  Visit: Https://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/all-disorders