Feeling blue on occasion is commonplace. Experiencing stress, sadness and unease for lengthy periods of time, however, is known as depression—and is not a typical part of aging. The majority of older adults pursue their daily lives with satisfaction, despite suffering from several illnesses or limitations.
When depression makes an unwelcome entrance, professional home care caregivers are prepared to help their senior care recipients ward off this undesirable emotional state.
What triggers depression in some seniors?
Significant life changes can spur bouts of depression in older people. The passing of spouses, friends and other loved ones leaves seniors alone and vulnerable. Transitioning from a career into retirement can also prompt depression. Plus, suffering from a severe physical or cognitive condition is distressing.
What are symptoms of depression?
Depression in older people presents differently than it does in the younger population. Although difficult, family members can recognize symptoms of depression in their senior loved ones. Sadness may not be the primary emotion in seniors who experience depression. Other symptoms exist:
Feeling tired often is a symptom of depression. At the same time, seniors may have difficulty falling asleep, another indication of a depressive condition. Uncharacteristic irritability may point to depression, as well. Confusion may be a byproduct of depression rather than Alzheimer’s disease.
Certain medication side effects can also cause spells of depression in older people. Serious illnesses, like cancer or stroke, lead to depressed states of mind. Some seniors are less likely to discuss their emotional state, making it difficult for physicians to recognize the depression.
What are treatments and how do caregivers help?
When family members are too preoccupied with their everyday lives to provide meaningful support or help improve their aging loved ones’ emotional states, compassionate caregivers are an optimal alternative. Caregivers can make possible numerous strategies to help seniors fight depression.
Psychotherapy is a well-known treatment for depression. The majority of older people with depression respond positively and benefit immensely as skilled therapists help them replace negative thought patterns with healthy ones. Successful therapies include cognitive behavioral therapy, problem-solving therapy and interpersonal therapy.
Therapies are either short-term, lasting 10 to 20 weeks, or long-term and are based on seniors’ individual needs. Caregivers’ transportation services are instrumental in making therapy sessions happen. Seniors rely on their caregiver to get them to therapy appointments regularly and on time.
When in a depressed emotional state, some aging individuals may be reluctant to get out of bed to attend a 9am therapy appointment. A caregiver is prepared to wake the senior, get him dressed and transport him to the scheduled psychotherapy session—which can contribute to significant relief.
Attending doctors who recognize and diagnose depression in aging adults may prescribe helpful medications. Antidepressants treat depressive symptoms by controlling mood- and stress-related chemicals. In order for these medications to have their intended effect, they must be taken as prescribed.
Depressed seniors may lack the concentration and attention needed to take their medications at the right time daily. Caregivers play an important role in ensuring their care recipients ingest their medicines correctly. While personal caregivers do not administer medication, they provide invaluable medication reminders.
Medicines can provoke unwanted side effects, especially during the initial weeks of treatment. Caregivers with healthcare credentials can monitor the senior, watching for any unusual reactions that may be due to the medications. The caregiver notifies the attending doctor and medication changes can be made.
Physical activity is a mood booster. Seniors who experience depression improve their emotional states by engaging in regular exercise. Caregivers are especially helpful in making daily exercise a reality. Caregivers might accompany seniors on leisurely walks, which gives them safe, low-intensity exercise.
Older individuals also get their daily dose of exercise when caregivers provide transportation to senior yoga classes or to senior recreation centers, where light or moderate exercises can safely be done. If physical therapy is prescribed, caregivers are useful in transporting the senior.
Eating healthy, balanced meals daily is key to preventing certain illnesses that may contribute to depressive tendencies. Seniors who are frail or too weak to stand over a stove can still consume nutritious meals. An important part of caregiving duties is to prepare healthy dishes.
If a senior with depression prefers and is able to cook, she may be reluctant to drive. Caregivers solve the dilemma by providing reliable transportation to the grocery store and assisting the senior in shopping for fresh produce and nutrient-dense foods.
When loved ones pass away, some seniors are left isolated and alone, factors which can contribute to depressed emotional states. With the cheerful companionship provided by compassionate caregivers, the sense of isolation and resulting depression in seniors are dramatically reduced.
Caregivers build bonds with their senior care recipients through meaningful conversations, where the professionals take time to get to know the seniors’ interests and hobbies. Caregivers can serve as friendly companions. Invaluable trust is also built through the caregiver-care recipient relationship.
If the aging loved one in your life is undergoing any level of depression, a professional caregiver from Assisting Hands Home Care is available and ready to help the senior fight the condition. Our caregivers are dedicated to providing their care recipients with the non-medical home health care services that will improve their overall quality of life.
Our comprehensive senior care services include help with the activities of daily living, such as grooming, bathing and meal preparation, as well as transportation services and light housekeeping. Services are flexible, ranging from respite care to 24-hour home care to hospice care.
Aging in the comfort and familiarity of home contributes to feelings of security in seniors and helps keep depression at bay. In-home care from Assisting Hands Home Care professionals make it possible for seniors to remain at home as they age.
Each caregiver on our staff is bonded and insured to give families maximum peace of mind. One call to our home care facility starts the invaluable relationship between a professional caregiver and the care recipient. Assisting Hands Home Care serves the elder populations and their families in the communities surrounding Will and Kendall Counties, Illinois.