Senior depression often can go undetected. Many times the signs are seen as symptoms of other conditions such as Alzheimer’s or dementia, general aging changes and social/emotional changes due to retirement and other life changes.
This is a very serious condition, and often times loved ones have no idea how to help.
So, how can you help someone who has elderly depression? There are several ways you can assist.
Identify senior depression
It can be difficult to identify elderly depression. With natural aging and major life changes, many people can experience a short period of the “blues.” Seniors face things such as death of a friend or loved one, loneliness or chronic illness, which can bring sadness. But don’t dismiss signs such as reduction in appetite, trouble sleeping, disinterest in activities and sadness that continues for more than 2 weeks. When depression lasts a long time, your loved one can’t regain his emotional balance or affects his daily life, help may be needed. Watch and listen for the signs of depression.
Bring up the subject
Be sensitive and find a gentle and kind way to discuss your concerns. Encourage him to talk about his feelings. Listen without judgment and gently overcome any resistance.
Seek medical assistance for senior depression
Take your loved one to see their primary care physician. If they refuse to make the call, and you are able, make the call yourself. Offer to go with to help put them at ease.
Maintain a positive attitude
Keep a positive outlook about the treatment process and outcome for senior depression. Your loved one needs your support and needs to remember the positive things in his life. Encourage your loved one to be active and maybe even take up an activity they once enjoyed.
Whether it’s being a good listener, a shopping partner, cooking them dinner one night or even just inviting seniors to one of your outings, find ways to be there for your loved one.
Make appointments or help keep them
Go with the senior to their appointments. Not only can you give them a ride, but you also can offer support and even help them keep track of when they need to go.
Don’t try to take over
Even if it is not your intention, be careful not to “take over” the person’s life. Helping someone with senior depression cope and make life changes is a better choice. Trying to take over will rob him of independence and increase feelings of helplessness.
When offering help to your loved one, make sure you show understanding, patience and respect. Seniors suffering from depression are going through many changes and need to feel loved and remember the good things in their lives.
1. American Psychological Association
2. NIH Senior Health on NIHseniorhealth.gov
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