Depression is a common problem for the elderly. However, it should not be accepted as a normal or necessary part of aging. Treatment is available for this condition. If you believe your elderly loved one is suffering from depression, seek help immediately. Below are some tips to assist you.
The first step is to observe your loved one and determine if she is, in fact, suffering from depression. A few of the more obvious signs include:
⦁ Increased or decreased appetite
⦁ Lack of energy
⦁ Loss of interest in activities
⦁ Increased sleep
The important thing to look for is a change in behavior. For example, if your mother went to church every sunday for the past five years but no longer attends because she prefers to sleep, this is a red flag.
Tips for Fighting Depression
It is crucial for elderly people to have a social network. Creating new friendships and fostering existing relationships has an enormous impact on increasing overall happiness and wellness. There are numerous ways seniors can make new friends. Some of these include attending church, joining a book club, taking a class, or just spending time in a local coffee shop.
Restrict Alcohol and Drugs
It is estimated that at least 17% of seniors have a substance abuse problem. They often try to self medicate with drugs and alcohol to suppress pain from physical ailments or to escape anxiety and depression. However, drugs and alcohol exacerbate depression in the long-term. It is also very dangerous to mix alcohol with various medications and since most elderly people take numerous medications, this can be lethal.
Sleep deprivation is a significant contributing factor to depression. Seniors often experience interrupted sleep cycles, which puts them at risk for depression. Treat insomnia to avoid this. Read our article on seniors and sleep for more information.
Grief versus Depression
Most elderly people have experienced the loss of friends and loved ones. It is useful to understand the difference between grief and depression. Grief typically resolves itself over time while depression requires proactive methods for improvement. Grief comes in bursts of intense emotion and depression is a persistent long-term condition. Grief can lead to depression, so if your loved one seems to linger in grief for too long, it may be a sign that they are slipping into a state of depression.
Depression is a serious issue for people of all ages. It is particularly dangerous for elderly people since they are already at risk for so many other issues. If you suspect your loved one is depressed, please seek assistance immediately.