You have probably heard of the stereotype of the grumpy old man. While it is only a stereotype, it is evident that many elderly people do have issues maintaining a good mood. While some of this may be blamed on the stresses of getting older and a decline in independence, there is another reason why some elderly people have a difficult time staying in a good mood: serotonin.
Serotonin, a naturally occurring hormone, assists in keeping us happy and cheerful. A decrease in serotonin can lead to bad moods, sleeping difficulties, swings in weight, and a change in sexual desire and performance. Sometimes, as people age, they begin to suffer from a decrease in serotonin levels and the corresponding maladies that come with it. Fortunately, it is possible to boost serotonin levels when they begin to fall.
Available both as an over-the-counter supplement and as a more powerful prescription drug, serotonin boosters can increase the level of serotonin in an elderly person's bloodstream and help return him or her to the desired level. If your loved one does not wish to take serotonin itself, there are other ways to boost serotonin levels. By eating more foods with L-tryptophan, a precursor to serotonin, an elderly person can increase the amount of the hormone naturally.
Natural Ways to Boost Serotonin-"Happy Foods"
There are a number of "happy foods" that will contribute to the manufacture of serotonin in your loved one. Although this route doesn't work as quickly as taking a serotonin supplement, it is an option for those elderly people who are opposed to taking a supplement.
To boost serotonin levels naturally, encourage your elderly loved one to eat brightly colored vegetables. These are not only good for cardiac health and weight issues: vegetables have many compounds in them, which act as natural remedies for all sorts of maladies. More relevant to the point here, brightly colored vegetables are filled with the materials that the body uses to generate serotonin.
In addition to vegetables, encourage a diet rich in bananas, fish, wild turkey, and legumes (such as peanuts). These foods contain precursors to serotonin and thus boost its levels.
Dark chocolate also contains precursors to serotonin. Evidently those people who swear by chocolate as a mood booster know what they're talking about!
Be aware that too much caffeine can have a negative effect on the levels of serotonin in the body. So if an elderly person is consuming too much coffee or tea, he or she may end up with depressed levels of serotonin and a tendency towards depression in addition to the difficulty sleeping that coffee is known to produce.
Use Caution When Taking Supplements
Although serotonin supplements are a good tool for elevating an elderly person's mood, be aware that taking too much can have adverse effects. For example, too much serotonin in the body can bring a feeling of nausea. Further, some of the compounds present either in serotonin or as regulators thereto can be problematic for those with heart or circulatory system issues. Finally, long-term use of some supplements can cause the body to develop a shortage of certain other compounds. As with any medication, it is wise to consult with a doctor and follow the doctor's instructions carefully.
Advancing age is often marked by a noticeable decrease in mood levels and an increase in irritability levels. This can frequently be helped by taking serotonin supplements. Barring the use of supplements, an elderly person can increase his or her serotonin levels by eating foods that are rich in the materials used to create serotonin in the body. Anyone taking supplements should consult a doctor first and should be careful to follow any instructions that the doctor gives.
By eating carefully, exercising, and following a careful diet with a monitored use of supplements, your elderly one can maintain a cheerful outlook and can lead a happier and more fulfilling life.
Nootriment.com (website). Natural Serotonin Booster Supplements and Drugs that Work. Available online at http://nootriment.com/serotonin-boosters/.