Senior Depression Tips: Helping Seniors Coping with Sadness
Depression…we’ve all seen the symptoms in someone we care about or, at times, even ourselves. This debilitating condition often results in a lack of energy, sadness, loss of interests, withdrawal from others and the loss of hope. The reasons behind depression are complex involving physical factors such as one’s biochemistry, health conditions, medication side-effects as well as environmental factors such as one’s history, current circumstances, and social situation. Senior depression can be a common problem for the elderly. Please read more about seniors with depression including the following senior depression tips.
Sadly, depression is an illness/condition that can affect anyone regardless of race, cultural background, gender or age. According to the Mood Disorders Association of Ontario, “current national statistics show the rate of depression in men and women over the age of 65, who live in the community to be under 2%.” However they continue to write, “It is estimated that 30-40% of seniors living in long-term facilities live with depression.” Many times seniors with dementia can also present with depression and anxiety.
Often times depression can be helped through medication and/or psychological therapies with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy being one of the most effective. If you suspect a senior loved one of having depression, or symptoms of it, it is best to consult with a doctor for further evaluation.
That being said, there are a number of ways that we, as caregivers, can also reduce depressive symptoms in seniors. Here are some senior depression tips that may help alleviate sadness in seniors and/or at the very least improve the quality of their days.
Senior Depression Tips:
- Make the senior in your life feel important and needed. Make eye contact when you greet them and talk to them using a warm, uplifting tone of voice. It is very important to be genuine when speaking with him/her as even persons with dementia can accurately read one’s emotions.
- One of the most important things one can do to make a person feel valued is to genuinely listen to them. Reminiscing is a wonderful way to connect with seniors, particularly those with dementia, as their earlier memories are more clear and accessible than their later ones. Reminiscing can lead to engaging conversations that highlight the special moments in peoples lives and bring them great pleasure.
- When seniors live in long-term care, many of them lose the ability to make choices in their life. This lack of control can lead to a sense of apathy and withdrawal. Giving a senior some choices as to how they wish to spend their time when visiting you can give them back some sense of independence and power. It also ensures that they get to spend time doing what they want as opposed to what you think they’d like. When a senior has dementia it is advisable to offer only one to two choices of what they would like to do as making decisions can be difficult for them.
- Seniors at home or residing in-facility can also benefit from guided activities that can restore within them a sense of purpose. Find out what the senior liked to do in the past and build from there. You may read to them, find an activity that reminds them of their favorite pastime or simply talk about topics that interest them.
- A number of seniors can become sad or withdrawn due to lack of socializing with others. Providing a senior with regular visits with family, friends, and other loved ones (e.g., grandchildren) can do much to help them feel more engaged in life.
- Providing seniors with guided opportunities to socially interact with one another, such as arranging tea/coffee socials, dances, entertainment, games and having trips to outside venues can offer seniors something to plan for and look forward to.
Senior Depression & Pets
Seniors can also benefit from being around animals. Sometimes a therapy cat or dog can connect with seniors on a deeper more intuitive level than many people.
Due to health conditions and fear, many seniors do not get outside often which can greatly affect their mood. Taking a senior loved one for a leisurely stroll outside and/or spending some time sitting under a tree and enjoying the sunshine can do a lot to uplift one’s spirit. Just remember to wear a hat and bring sunscreen as seniors have more sensitive skin.
Music can also be an interesting way to connect with a senior. Find out what music they enjoy and listen to it. This can be a particularly a good way to connect with seniors who have limited abilities to communicate.