A loss of interest in once-pleasurable activities and prolonged feelings of hopelessness plague the lives of some seniors. Depression is common in the elderly population. Every year, seven million people over the age of 65 experience depression, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ensuring that your elderly loved ones get home care is one way to combat depression.
What causes depression in seniors?
The elderly have an increased risk for depression since they face significant life changes. Health issues, such as chronic pain, disability or cognitive decline contribute to feelings of helplessness and depressive tendencies. Fear of dying or anxiety about medical conditions also trigger depression.
Medications used to treat physical ailments in the elderly can spur bouts of depression. Prescription drugs that can worsen depression include blood pressure medicines, drugs to ease arthritis, tranquilizers (like Valium and Xanax), medication for Parkinson’s disease and calcium-channel blockers.
As seniors’ social circles dwindle, loneliness creeps into their lives. Spouses, loved ones and friends may pass away, leaving the elderly alone and lonely. Older folks who live alone or who have limited mobility are likely to feel the burden of isolation, leading to instances of depression.
Older retirees lose their sense of purpose. Along with the loss of daily motivation, seniors may lack financial security once they exit the workforce; financial problems may ensue. Status and self-confidence are adversely impacted. These factors are also contributors to depression in the elderly.
How can relatives stay connected?
Individuals suffering from depression tend to isolate; but isolation only worsens depression. Concerned loved ones who offer social support to their elderly relatives see improvement in their depression symptoms. Limiting seniors’ time alone can also remarkably shift their unhealthy perspective.
While digital communication, such as video chats and email, offers to relieve seniors’ loneliness to a degree, nothing is more beneficial than face-to-face contact. Seniors’ moods are greatly improved by interacting with friends, family and acquaintances on a daily basis.
When family members live too far away to connect frequently, seniors have other options to increase opportunities for socialization. Encourage the elderly relative to volunteer. Offering a helping hand provides meaning as well as the chance to expand one’s social network.
Families may hire a companion caregiver to provide daily interaction and ward off the blues. Professional caregivers provide cheerful companionship and engage in conversation. Care professionals may accompany seniors to the park, for instance, to help them get out into the world.
What are ways to re-introduce meaning?
Living with a strong life purpose is a natural antidote to depression. Finding new meaning in life, despite the many changes that seniors experience, is possibly every day. Encourage elderly relatives struggling with depression to adopt a new outlook about the aging process.
Seniors may suffer from low-confidence due to being unable to engage in activities they once were able to do independently. Foster newfound confidence by helping seniors see the many ways they can still contribute. Community involvement and travel are examples of how the elderly can open their world.
Do healthy habits ward off depression?
Healthy lifestyle habits help to keep depression at bay. Depressed individuals may lack the initiative to eat nutritiously or exercise. Give the elderly relative a chance to beat depression by promoting balanced meals and physical activity at least three times a week.
A loved one with depression can be motivated to take short walks by the gentle prompting and companionship of a caregiver. The caregiver is available to transport the care recipient to senior yoga classes, too. Even gardening in the backyard counts toward the senior’s daily exercise.
Symptoms of depression improve by consuming nutrient-rich meals. Help the elderly relative achieve emotional balance by encouraging meals loaded with quality proteins, complex carbs and healthy fats. Educate the senior so she minimizes the consumption of sugar and refined carbs.
Seniors’ moods improve from exposure to natural sunlight, which boosts serotonin levels. Just 15 minutes per day under the sun’s rays help older people cope with seasonal affective disorder (SAD). In wintry seasons when sunshine is limited, gift the relative a light therapy box.
When is professional help warranted?
When the depression fails to improve once the causes are addressed, professional treatment for the condition may be necessary. Keep in mind that if loneliness is the cause of depression and symptoms do not improve after regular socialization, medications will have no beneficial effect.
Therapies are effective, since sessions focus on pinpointing and addressing the underlying cause of depression. Therapy helps depressed people process difficult feelings, cope with losses and change negative thinking patterns. Support groups with people who share similar experiences are beneficial.
Antidepressants come with safety concerns that are specific to the aging population. Elderly individuals who take antidepressants are susceptible to rapid bone loss and have a greater risk for fractures and falls. Consequently, seniors who consume these drugs should be carefully monitored.
Helping an elderly relative improve depression symptoms requires compassionate listening and a doctor who can provide both a proper diagnosis and beneficial care. When you are too busy to support a loved one directly, caregivers from Assisting Hands Home Care are readily available to help.
Companion caregivers from Assisting Hands Home Care are experienced in providing high-level elder care. We understand the basic need for regular socialization and ensure your senior loved one receives personal attention, compassionate support and mental stimulation on a daily basis.
Foods rich in vitamins are natural mood boosters. We are skilled in preparing nutritious meals that meet your loved one’s dietary restrictions. We also assist with grooming, dressing and bathing. Taking pride in one’s appearance helps a senior feel self-confident and move out of a depressive state.
Assisting Hands Home Care service providers promote social activities that beat the blues. We’ll transport your loved one to the local senior center for a day of mingling and leisure programs. When therapy to treat depression is scheduled, we’ll drive the senior to counseling sessions.
Include Assisting Hands Home Care in your elderly relative’s daily life and keep depression away. Our home care agency dependably serves the elder population in Naperville, Illinois. Consult us for senior home care services that will help your loved one live a life rich with social opportunities and health.