Ever since dad died, your elderly mother hasn’t been quite the same. She’s having a hard time concentrating, can’t sleep and even stopped socializing with her friends. You know mom’s depressed but aren’t sure what to do. Depression is quite common in seniors and if allowed to persist the physical and emotional toll upon their lives can be devastating. On the positive side, because depression isn’t a normal part of the aging process itself it is a very treatable condition. Based on proven results, here are 5 ways to help a senior with depression feel better again.
Depression in the Aging Population
Roughly 25% of Americans aged 65-and-over suffer from chronic depression, while more than half of all doctor visits involving seniors also include discussions about the emotional distress they’re experiencing. Sadly, nearly 20% off all suicides in the U.S. take the lives of elderly persons, and millions of seniors self-medicate with drugs and alcohol to help them emotionally disconnect from their negative feelings.
Why Do Seniors Get Depressed?
Here are some reasons why older adults feel depressed:
- Dealing with a chronic illness or medical condition
- Being on certain medications
- Death of a spouse or other close relative
- Losing their driving privileges
- Loneliness and not feeling wanted/needed
- Feeling hopeless
- Financial difficulties
Signs of Depression in the Elderly
According to the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry, these are the most common signs of depression in persons aged 65-and-above:
- Worrying constantly
- Difficulty sleeping
- Not eating well
- Persistent sadness
- Fidgeting or pacing
- Crying or tearing up frequently
- Withdrawing from activities once enjoyed
- Substance abuse
- Difficulty concentrating
- Drastic weight changes
Dementia, depression and the aging process share many of the same symptoms, which can make a diagnosis difficult. If your mom has been exhibiting one or more of these signs for over two weeks, it’s best to take her to the doctor for an evaluation. Whenever a loved one of any age is acting suicidal, seek prompt intervention from a mental health professional.
5 Ways to Combat Depression in Seniors
Here are 5 reliable ways to cheer up your mom:
Let Her Know She’s Loved
Social isolation only makes a depressed person feel worse. Let mom know how much she’s loved by involving family members and friends in a social support network for her that includes:
- Inviting her to group outings
- Daily or weekly wellness visits and companionship
- Transportation to and from her appointments
- Doing chores around her home
- Taking her grocery shopping
- Dropping off nutritious meals and snacks
- Connecting and communicating with her on social media
Keep Her Active
Staying active also helps ward off depression, so encourage your mother to participate in some productive activities that will also boost her sense of wellbeing, like:
- Taking a class at the local senior center, library or community college
- Learning a new hobby
- Joining a gym for some healthy exercise like Yoga, chair aerobics or Tai Chi
- Participating in a club
If mom’s depression is more serious, her doctor may prescribe an antidepressant, although those drugs have been shown to be effective, they can also have side effects and anyone taking an antidepressant should be closely monitored.
Join a Support Group
Depending upon the underlying cause(s) of mom’s depression, connecting with other seniors who are also dealing with depression for similar reasons, like the loss of a spouse, may do wonders for combatting her loneliness and cheering mom up.
Meeting regularly with a licensed psychotherapist can be a great source of support for mom. Solution-focused, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been shown to benefit seniors suffering from depression by eliminating unhealthy thinking patterns and behaviors that feed depressive symptoms.
In-Home Caregivers that Treat Seniors Just Like Family
Managing an aging in place loved one’s medications can be hard when you’re busy or live far away. When you need a hand, contact LightSpring Home Care. As a private family owned and operated agency, our fully licensed and insured caregivers will serve as an extended family in your senior’s home so they can continue aging comfortably in place right where they want to be.
In addition to medication monitoring and reminders, while in the home our highly trained aides can also perform duties like light housekeeping, personal hygiene, meals, and companionship. And, all our family trusted in-home services can be personalized into an affordable package when and where you need them! To learn more about LightSpring Home Care, or to schedule a FREE, in-home care consultation for a special senior in your life, please visit us online today.