Depression is a common mental health issue among older people. That does not mean it is a normal part of ageing. Multiple studies have shown that only 10% of elder depressed people get treatment for their depression. The likely reason is that depression in older people is easily confused with the aftereffects of multiple physical illnesses and treatments.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) estimation, all around the world, about 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression. Although depression is a serious issue for all ages, it is more serious for aging people. So, if you have to deal with the depression of a senior family member, keep in mind that depression affects older people differently than younger people. You have to be extra cautious when dealing with older people’s depression. Please read this article thoroughly to learn about five tips that will make it easier for you to help your senior family members deal with depression.
Keep them physically active
Due to other physical illnesses and disabilities, depression in older adults is tied to higher risks. Studies have shown that depression increases the risk of death from physical illnesses. For that reason, it is important to ensure better help to an aged depressed person, even if the depression is mild. One of the most beneficial yet simplest ways to help the elderly struggling with depression is engaging them in physical activities.
Research has found that physical activities can be very effective for senior mental health. Studies even suggest that exercise may help lessen depression in older people better than some antidepressants. So you need to involve your senior family members in physical activities to lessen their depression. Moderate exercise like walking and age-appropriate workouts can help a senior stay in good physical and mental health.
Encourage them to interact more
Loneliness is a major factor contributing to depression among aged people. Often people of increasing age tend to disengage themselves from the world. Disengagement is a very common symptom of depression. It can either be a disengagement from one’s friends and family or one’s pleasurable activities.
If your aging loved ones are doing the same, do not leave them alone in this situation. You must use some techniques to help them reestablish connection and engagement in their life. Below are the things you can do to help them engage again in their life and with others.
- Encourage them to visit family and friends, go for outings, and attend events.
- Promote a sense of purpose to keep boredom and loneliness at bay.
- Encourage them to adopt a hobby such as gardening, knitting, etc.
Ensure proper sleeping patterns
More or less, all aged people are prone to sleeping problems that can aggravate depression. In fact, sleep and depression have a very close link, regardless of age. For example, people suffering from insomnia have a higher risk of developing depression than those who get a good night’s sleep. Studies have shown that among people with depression, 75 percent have sleeping issues.
To deal with your senior family members’ depression, you must ensure they have a good night’s sleep. You can use any of the following simple steps to combat sleep problems in the elderly.
- Have a specific bedtime.
- Establish pre-sleep rituals.
- Exercise regularly.
Show them they are loved
As far as depression is concerned, exhibiting love can make a great difference. You can keep your senior’s depression under control through love and care. Show your depressed elders that you love and need them; listen to them, and hug them often.
One of the best things you can do for your senior family members dealing with depression is to offer them your support. You can support them in many different ways. For example;
- Listen to them in a supportive manner.
- Make frequent plans with them to spend time together.
- Encourage them to stick with treatment plans.
Seek professional help
You can help your senior family members deal with depression on your own. But if you see any symptoms of depression getting worse, it’s time to seek professional help. Decreases in appetite and behavioral changes, for example, can be symptoms of depression getting worse. Contact a mental health professional if you suspect the situation is getting out of your hand.
Also, make sure to seek professional help at the right time. Do not deteriorate the condition of your aging loved ones by wasting time. The professional may recommend an antidepressant or occupational therapy. Follow the instructions properly for the betterment of your elderly.
Like multiple physical illnesses, depression is a common issue among older people. But you must not close your eyes to your aging loved ones’ depression. It is a serious issue that needs to be dealt with carefully. You can help your senior family members suffering from depression in many ways. You’ve just read some of them, and we hope these will be helpful in bringing them out of the pit of despair and back to life.
Adam Mulligan did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertforshire. He is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.