Contemporary Issues in Gerontology: Promoting Positive Ageing

By V. Minichiello; I. Coulson | Go to book overview

3

The experience of ageing: Influences
on mental health and well-being

Colette Browning

Yvonne Wells

Andrew Joyce

The experience of ageing in our society is influenced by many factors—including biological, behavioural, psychosocial and economic—as well as the physical environment and access to health and community services (see Chapters 1, 2 and 11). These determinants impact on the physical and mental well-being of older people and underpin the concept of active or healthy ageing as outlined by the World Health Organization (WHO 2002). The relationships between these factors are multidirectional. Psychosocial factors such as adjustment to late-life transitions (for example, widowhood) or the availability of social support can influence physical and mental health. In turn, physical ill health impacts on mental ill health (for example, depression and anxiety) and social connectedness.

The focus of this chapter is to examine what influences mental health and well-being in later life. Promoting mental health and well-being is central to achieving positive ageing. We focus in particular on the influences of social factors and life transitions. For the purposes of the current discussion, indicators of mental health include depression and anxiety and indicators of wellbeing include positive and negative mood or affect (happiness/ unhappiness). Social influences on mental health and well-being highlighted in this chapter are social support, social activities and

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