Depression in Seniors: What Can Be Done to Help?

Depression is a mood disorder that affects the individual’s ability to feel, act and think. Unfortunately, symptoms of clinical depression are misconceived as a normal part of aging. Late-life depression is common, but many disregard treatments and stubbornly view depression as a weakness or character flaw. According to a study done by Beyond Blue highlighted approximately 10-15% of elderly adults in Australia experience depression.

Depression can be difficult to recognize or detect in senior people. The condition is often confused with other illnesses the individual might be experiencing or misjudged as side effects of any ongoing medical treatment. General symptoms of standard depression include sadness, sleep problems, drastic changes in appetite, and mood swings. Older adults are at greater risk of developing mental conditions because of the accumulated impact of numerous risk factors.

Depression in older people is tied to a higher risk of physical complications. Moreover, depression significantly impacts the ability to recover for elderlies. Primary care doctors can diagnose depression through a list of standard questions and tests. If your loved one is experiencing depression, this article will guide you about different ways one can help an elderly person with the disorder.

Remain Positive and Calm

It is understandable for you to be worried while dealing with the mental disorders of your elderly loved ones. However, keep in mind that your attitude is important for their well-being. Showcase calmness and patience when interacting with them. An anxious, irritated, or angry attitude towards them will make the situation worse and cause them to put up a deflecting wall. Display empathy and engage in compassionate conversation to let the loved one share about their condition.

Establish a Support System

Isolation and loneliness are major contributing factors to depression in aging adults. It is important to involve supporting family members or friends to create a care system. Involve your loved ones in creating this system to ensure it is the company they will enjoy. Then, form a schedule that will help them connect to these people more regularly. For example, you can ask them to pick up the kids from school or accompany you while doing daily chores. The schedule just needs to be consistent.

Counseling and Therapy

The importance of therapy cannot be overstated. It helps self-expression and works through difficult emotions in a confidential and safe environment. Therapy is used to negate negative thinking patterns and form improved coping skills. Additionally, it is an essential tool to keep tabs on your loved one’s mental state and thoughts. Depending on the person’s aptitude, you can consider cognitive behavioral therapy or group supportive therapy.

Staying Active

Isolation makes depression worse as it is understandably difficult to beat depression alone. Help ensure your loved one is receiving ample opportunities to socialize and to be in different environments. Encourage an active lifestyle and educate them that it is never too late to make new friends.

You can even consider adopting a new pet to keep them company. Also referred to as pet therapy, regular contact with animals has shown considerable improvement against depressive thoughts. Researching the best and worst dog breeds for seniors can help you narrow down your search and help find the right dog for their lifestyle and mobility. Especially for dog owners, it provides the caretaker to remain active and healthy. For example, walking for seniors is great exercise, so walking a dog is a beneficial excuse to leave the house. Additionally, having a pet means more opportunities to meet people, from the veterinarian’s clinic to pet lovers from the neighborhood.

Moreover, general exercise is key in helping a person keep a solid mental and emotional shape. Encourage your loved one to sign up for group exercise sessions of yoga or tai chi. This will help the depressed person maintain a healthy schedule and opportunities to interact with like-minded peers.

Examine Sleep and Eating Routines

Insomnia can be a common symptom of depression and can badly harm an older adult’s health. You can revise their sleep schedule to prevent depressive episodes due to lack of sleep. The general rule is to help them sleep around 7 to 9 hours every day. Try avoiding alcohol or caffeine intake after sunset to improve the quality of sleep at night. You can even schedule activities during the day to prevent them from suffering symptoms like sundowning or sleep disorders.

Furthermore, track the dietary habits of your aging loved ones and check if they are eating healthy. Loss of appetite is commonly found with depressed elderlies, which leads to deteriorating health, fatigue, and dramatic weight loss. You can strategize your meals every week to make sure they are receiving ample nutrients. Consult with a professional about the best-designed meal routine for your loved one and also note their recommendations in mind.

Consider Home Care

It can be difficult to keep a check on your aging loved one if they are living independently. It is wise to hire a professional in-home care service to daily check on them and support them through regular chores. If the person requires special supervision, explore in-home disability care options to provide nursing during day-to-day activities.

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