Depression can affect people of all ages, but it is often very common in seniors for a variety of reasons. Many seniors have a hard time dealing with depression; some of them do not consider depression an illness and some are too embarrassed to ask for help from family members. Family members should carefully monitor their loved one for signs of depression as they age just in case their loved one does not ask for help on their own. We at Carefect Home Care Services would like to offer some information for family caregivers on how they can help their elderly loved ones if they are suffering from depression.
Common Reasons for Depression
Many seniors suffer from depression because they are facing a new wave of things as they age such as the death of friends and having to retire from their job. Many seniors start to fear death or feel anxious about their health problems as they age, especially as they start to lose close friends that are around their age. Losing some of their friends or having to move to a nursing home can also cause them to become depressed if they start to feel isolated and alone in their new surroundings. Seniors in poor health might also feel that they have lost their sense of purpose because they are no longer able to do the things that they used to do. Family members should keep a close eye on their loved ones to make sure that their grieving does not become depression. It is natural for seniors to feel a little sad as their friends pass away, but if the sadness continues for a long period of time or family members start to see signs of depression, they should take action.
Signs of Depression
Family members and caregivers should watch their loved ones for signs of social withdrawal, changes in appetite or sleep patterns, loss of interest in activities, lack of attention to personal care, agitation and anxiety. If you notice that your loved one seems to be presenting any or all of these symptoms, it is a good idea to have them talk to a doctor and possibly start taking anti-depressants. Family members and caregivers should make sure that their loved one is taking their medication as prescribed and that they do not stop their treatment too soon as this can cause their depression to reoccur. Anti-depressants can often be very helpful in treating depression; however there are a variety of other ways for family members to help their loved one fight depression as well.
Engage in Social Activities
Family members or caregivers who are interested in helping their elderly loved one can engage them in social activities. Many seniors do not get out a lot or do not have much opportunity for social interaction, so spending some time with your loved one can be a great help to them. Taking your loved one out for the day can help them fight their depression by keeping them busy and giving them the chance to spend the day doing something that they used to enjoy. Many seniors enjoy spending the day at the park or at a museum or even at the movies. These activities are very beneficial to seniors because they provide them with mental and/or physical stimulation and allow them to spend the day socializing with their loved ones. Family members should also try to schedule regular outings with their loved one. Having regularly scheduled outings gives the senior something to look forward to and keeps them regularly engaged in activity so that they will not get lonely or feel isolated. Many seniors with depression feel better when they are around others but lack the motivation and energy to try to initiate activities or outings with others, so it is important that family members keep their loved ones involved.
Ensure a Healthy Diet
A healthy diet can also have a good effect on seniors with depression. Having a poor diet can make people feel worse, so seniors with depression should eat healthy meals in order to feel better. Family members and caregivers should make sure that their loved ones are eating healthy meals with fruits, vegetables, whole grains and protein. A healthy diet can also improve their overall health which will make them feel better both mentally and physically. Many seniors cannot or do not think to provide themselves with healthy meals, so family members can help prepare the meals themselves or consider hiring a homecare service that provides meal preparation or meal preparation help, such as our services at Carefect Home Care Services. Following these tips will allow your loved one to successfully deal with their depression so that they can remain happy and healthy as they age.
Other similar articles in our Home Care Blog:
- Recognizing the Signs of Depression in Older Adults and Seniors
- Alzheimer’s disease – Understanding and Dealing with Difficult Behaviors
- Losing a Loved One: Dealing with Grief
- Tips to Beat the Winter Blues for Seniors