After spending time with loved ones and revisiting treasured traditions and memories throughout the holiday season, it is normal for a sense of wistfulness and sadness to emerge for older people. And while some extent of short-term post-holiday unhappiness can be expected, it’s important to know that it can develop into depression. Depression in seniors is a serious psychological condition, but isn’t a normal aspect of aging.
How can you tell if an older person you love has become depressed – and, what can you do to assist?
First, it’s important to be aware of the risk factors for depression in seniors, including:
- Loneliness and isolation
- A sedentary lifestyle
- Chronic health problems
- Sleeping problems
- Addictive Habits
- A family history of depression
If a senior you love fits into some of those descriptions, or if you’re simply concerned that the senior could be on the verge of depression, watch out for these red flags:
- Persistent feelings of low self-esteem, anxiety, guilt, hopelessness, emptiness, or sadness
- Fidgeting, irritability, or restlessness
- A lack of interest in socializing or engaging in previously-enjoyed activities
- Tiredness and lethargy
- Changes to eating or sleeping routines
- Trouble with concentration, memory, or decision-making
- Thoughts or discussions around the subjects of death or suicide
In the event that you suspect depression in seniors you care about, take action immediately. Depression shouldn’t ever be shrugged off as something the person has to “get over.” It is a chronic condition that calls for medical intervention.
A doctor will need to evaluate the senior, and can then put together a treatment program, which could include:
- Medications: There are some effective prescriptions available that can make a huge impact on the way the senior feels by balancing mood-affecting hormones.
- Talk Therapy: A psychologist or other licensed mental health care specialist can help the senior talk through feelings and use treatment techniques such as cognitive-behavioral therapy.
- Brain stimulation: If a senior isn’t responding well to standard depression therapeutic treatments, ECT or rTMS could be considered, which utilize electrodes or magnets to impact the brain directly.
There are also things you can do to help avoid depression in the seniors you love, such as by encouraging:
- Socialization and participation in pleasurable activities, such as exercise. (Participating with the senior will offer further inspiration and assistance.)
- Sticking with a healthy diet plan and getting at least seven hours of sleep every night.
- Speaking up about their mental health concerns and needs.
An in-home caregiving companion from Anthem Home Care, a provider of award-winning home and dementia care in Corpus Christi, TX and the surrounding areas, can be incredibly helpful for seniors who are at risk for or experiencing depression. Our care providers are fully trained and experienced in meeting an array of senior care needs at home, while providing the warm companionship to give socialization a boost and to bring a spark of joy every single day.