Depression is a condition that comes in many stages without a definitive or predictable timeline. Although more cases of depression present themselves in older individuals, depression may affect any person regardless of age, gender, race, or social class. And while its onset looks and feels different for everyone—some shared causes of depression among our elderly community can include quality of life, social isolation, recollecting traumatic or adverse life events, and in some cases, even genetics.
Depression affects your emotional and physical state, eventually impairing your desire to participate in social activities or even get out of bed some days. If you have a senior relative or elderly loved one exhibiting early signs of depression, Integrity Home Care + Hospice talks about the top tips to engage your senior relative to prevent or reverse the onset of depression.
While correctly interpreting the feelings of others can be risky, there are times when it is safe to assume someone is feeling sad—especially those closest to you. And sometimes expressing your concerns to your senior relative may be all they need to open up about what is troubling them. Encouraging open and frequent conversations may help to pinpoint the root of their issues, thus shedding light on what steps we can take to slowly repeal their depressive state.
When you take the first step by asking your loved one if they are OK—being honest about your feelings of concern for them—it creates a safe place for both you and your loved one to talk and hopefully find a solution to their internal dilemma. Talking it out is a great way to connect with your senior relative and a useful tool in the prevention of depression.
As people age, their close-knit group of friends may begin to shrink simply due to age-associated health issues and average life-span expectancies. And if they happen to be one of the last-standing in a lifelong group of friends, feelings of deep loneliness can develop as their once-packed social calendar becomes decidedly less full. Encouraging new social activities, creating family events, or even spending time one-on-one will help to promote a healthy and active lifestyle while keeping your senior loved one surrounded by people who care.
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While reaching retirement can bring about feelings of euphoria and accomplishment, those feelings can often be short-lived, with new feelings of fear and loss of purpose taking their place. Seniors often find it challenging to find a new sense of purpose or fulfillment after they retire from a job in which they had a large part of their identity entwined. As human beings, when we lose our sense of identity, we may feel as though we’re no longer contributing to society—paving the way for depression to develop. To combat these feelings of uselessness, encourage hobbies like volunteering, arts-and-crafts, or teaching a skill to a younger generation. Better yet, ask your senior relative to list three of four things give them joy—then find a way to make them happen regularly.
According to a Harvard Medical Report, exercise is an effective treatment for adults suffering from depression. Daily exercise can act as an antidepressant equivalent by creating a positive domino effect that leads to elevated mood, improved sleep, and even protection against certain diseases. Additionally, low-intensity exercises like water-aerobics or walking for 30 minutes a day improve cognitive function and nerve cell connections to create new pathways in the brain that aid in relieving depression.
For severe depression, medical attention should always be sought. Speaking to a psychiatric medical professional about depression is not an easy step to take, but is likely the most important in terms of getting your senior relative’s life back on track.
Depending on its severity, there are many alternative forms of treatment for depression outside of antidepressants—such as weekly counseling, in-home care, pet therapy, or even aromatherapy for mild cases. Acting as a loving and supporting figure in your relative’s life will provide much-needed feelings of comfort while they face their struggles.
Depression can take a significant toll on one’s lifestyle and overall health. Aside from medical treatment, seniors can fight off depression by participating in numerous physical and social activities that bring about feelings of joy or fulfillment. At Integrity Home Care + Hospice, we are a family that cares, and our mission is to identify home needs with love and compassion for all elderly patients. Changing lives is what we do best, and our team is here for you always. Contact Integrity Home Care + Hospice for more information about our staff and locations.