Depression can affect people of all ages. When seniors are confronted with major lifestyle changes, illnesses, or the realities of aging, they may develop mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. Here are six ways caregivers can help seniors manage depression.
1. Spot the Signs
As with most emotional health issues, the first step to managing depression is recognizing it. Be on the lookout for some of the major signs of depression, which may be impacting your aging loved one’s life in many ways. Common signs include persistent feelings of sadness, lack of energy, and loss of interest in hobbies. Over time, the symptoms of depression often become visible. Your loved one may start to neglect personal hygiene and/or lose weight.
2. Understand the Causes of Depression
On a chemical level, depression is caused by the inadequate production of mood-regulating neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Inadequate neurotransmitter production isn’t just a neurological quirk. These chemical realities are shaped by lifestyle, behavioral patterns, and other factors. For seniors who develop depression in their later years, the mood disorder is often triggered by major life changes, ranging from the deaths of loved ones to moving out of their homes. It can also be caused by financial anxiety, feelings of purposelessness, loneliness, and health problems. If you suspect your loved one has depression, try to identify the root cause of the issue.
Seniors’ anxiety and sadness can often be mitigated with the assistance and companionship of compassionate professional caregivers. Many seniors prefer aging in place over moving to assisted living facilities. If your senior loved one needs assistance to remain safe and comfortable while living at home, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading home care service agency. Our dedicated in-home caregivers can assist with meal prep, bathing and grooming, exercise, medication reminders, and many other important tasks.
3. Learn the Connection between Depression & Other Medical Conditions
Depression has a complicated connection with other medical conditions. For example, seniors living with chronic arthritis pain may develop depression as a reaction to this pain. In such cases, depression and pain are connected, but the arthritis merely creates a reality in which depression is more likely to develop. Other disorders can directly impact brain chemistry and lead to the development of neurological health conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, dementia, and Alzheimer’s. Certain medications can also increase the risk of depression, including some prescribed to treat blood pressure, high cholesterol, chronic pain, and gastrointestinal disorders. If your loved one undergoes a sudden mood shift, look at the lists of side effects on his or her current prescriptions. Your loved one may be having a reaction to a mood-altering medication.
If your loved one’s depression is due to a health condition such as dementia, help is just a phone call away. Dementia can be challenging for seniors to manage, but they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional dementia care. Victoria seniors can benefit greatly from the Cognitive Therapeutics Method (CTM), an activities-based program designed to promote cognitive health and delay the onset of dementia. CTM is included at no additional charge with any of the in-home care plans provided by Home Care Assistance.
4. Increase Engagement
If your loved one’s depression isn’t the result of a prescription or another illness, encourage him or her to seek out new ways to engage with the world. Being disconnected only worsens depression. Your loved one can try new hobbies, join a club, or volunteer. You can support your loved one by providing transportation to social events and searching for new ways to keep him or her socially and mentally stimulated.
5. Focus on Other Types of Health
Physical health and mental health are intrinsically linked. Seniors battling depression may discover when they focus on their physical health by exercising and eating healthy, their mood increases. Regular exercise helps the brain produce mood-stabilizing neurotransmitters, and a healthy diet gives the body the nutrition it needs to support emotional wellbeing.
6. Seek Outside Help
If lifestyle changes aren’t enough, seniors should seek help from trained professionals. Psychiatrists can prescribe medication and therapeutic treatment plans. Seniors with depression may benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy, religious counseling, and support groups.
Mental health issues such as depression can have a significant impact on an older adult’s overall wellbeing, so they shouldn’t be dismissed or ignored. Seniors can face a variety of challenges as they age, many of which can be mitigated with the help of professional in-home caregivers who provide high-quality at-home care. Victoria families trust Home Care Assistance to help their elderly loved ones age in place safely and comfortably. Call us today at (250) 592-4881 to learn about our high-quality in-home care services.