One of the most difficult parts of caring for senior loved ones is knowing how to handle the depression that often befalls them. There is no doubt that seniors are more at risk for developing depression, and it’s important that family members and caregivers understand the warning signs and what to do about them.
What are the Signs of Senior Depression?
Here are some common signs of depression in seniors:
• The senior may fluctuate between feelings of sadness or loneliness.
• Significant mood swings such as feeling angry without knowing why, or even crying easily.
• The senior no longer enjoys the things that have always brought pleasure, such as hobbies or social activities.
• The senior may struggle with normal responsibilities or nurturing relationships among friends and family.
• Unhealthy sleep patterns. They may not fall asleep easily or they may be sleeping far too much.
• Changes in eating habits, such as emotional eating, or not eating enough.
• Thoughts of suicide. Senior depression can lead to feelings of hopelessness in severe cases.
• Physical signs of depression include stomach problems, chronic headaches, increased heart rate, and pain.
Be aware of these signs and go with your senior loved one to visit their doctor if you are concerned about the possibility of depression.
Helping seniors cope with depression:
It’s tough to know what to do with a depression diagnosis in seniors. You may want desperately to help and support, but just have no idea how to start. First of all, know that you are not alone! Many people are dealing with this same situation and there are things you can do to help.
Spending time with your loved one is the best help. Remember that in the weeks following a depression diagnosis, the senior may be adjusting to new medications and it’s normal for them to deal with changes in eating, sleep, and the daily grind. Be available to talk or just be a listening ear for your senior loved one. Cooking a meal or running an errand is also a great way to show you are available.
Take the time to read about depression and learn all you can about how it manifests. The more you learn, the more empowered you will feel to offer help and support that matters. There are many resources at the community level, support groups, and other friends and family who deal with senior depression. Take advantage of these and reach out!
Go with your loved one to therapy
Your loved one’s doctor may prescribe outside therapy as part of their treatment. If they are anxious about this process, offer to take them to their appointments, and even sit in with them if the therapist is okay with that. More than anything, help your senior loved one to know that therapy is perfectly normal and healthy. Helping them embrace therapy takes the stigma out of the process.
Help out with household tasks
Depression often robs people of their desire to do normal daily tasks around the house such as cooking and cleaning. If you notice this happening, lend a helping hand or find friends and family who can take over the household duties. Cooking meals ahead for the freezer, cleaning the house, doing laundry, and helping care for pets are all ways to help your loved one recover from depression.
Laugh a lot
Laughter is indeed the best medicine! Having a good laugh literally allows the “feel good” chemicals in the brain to be released. Laughter also is a powerful treatment for a negative outlook, so finding ways to laugh can take away the hopelessness that often accompanies depression. A funny movie or game with friends and family will go a long way in helping your senior’s mental well-being.
For even more information and tips on senior depression, please contact us.
Home Helpers of Dallas is a locally-owned, trusted home health care agency and offers quality, compassionate senior in-home care services including home care assistance, personal care, companion care, respite care, 24-hour live-in care, Alzheimer’s & dementia care, Parkinson’s care as well as senior transportation services in Dallas, Addison, Richardson, Garland, Plano, Highland Park, University Park, Park Cities, and Lake Highlands, Texas.