Depression in Elderly: Some Coping Strategies

Depression is very common among elderly people. They also have the highest rates of suicide in the United States. Unfortunately, many seniors hesitate to undergo treatment because they do not want to burden their families with the problem or because they can’t admit to themselves that they are undergoing a psychological difficulty. If you have an elderly family member or you’re looking after a senior as a professional caregiver, here are some ways on how you can help cope with depression

One of the most overlooked causes of depression among elderly is lack of communication and interaction with other people. When you grow old and your kids have gone on with their own lives and you don’t see your friends anymore, you’re usually on your own with no one to talk to. That’s when depression can start creeping in. That is why, when you’re around older people, take time to talk to them. Ask them how they are feeling and listen attentively to their stories even if you’ve heard them many times before. This would not only make them happy, but would also make them feel that they’re important. Listening always provides comfort and support.

Look for Signs
Remember that depression is not normal sadness or stress. Depression, which is a psychological problem, involves loss of appetite and loss of interest in activities that a person used to enjoy. Other signs include wringing hands excessively, inability to sit still, agitation, and irritability over the smallest of things. It’s crucial to recognize those signs. An elderly person who is depressed may possibly deny it. In fact, many depressed seniors would always say, “I am not sad” or “I’m not depressed” because they don’t want to worry their family. But if you know these signs, it would be easier for you to know when it’s necessary to get professional help.

Don’t Take Over
It’s a common mistake for family members or caregivers to do everything for the elderly because they want to help out. This is not the right way to do it. What you should do instead is to let older people do what they can do for themselves. This is especially true for depressed older people. If you do everything for them, this will only reinforce their false belief that they are useless, worthless and incapacitated. Remind your elderly that you’re there to help but it would be better if he/she did things on his/her own. Be sure to praise any efforts to reinforce initiative and positive behavior.

Be Patient
Caring for an elderly is very difficult. Many would agree that it’s a lot more difficult to care for an elderly than for a baby. But you have to be very patient. It’s understandable that there would be times when you’d be short on patience because you’re stressed out yourself. Before you snap at your elderly, close your eyes for a moment and put yourself in his/her shoes. Imagine how you’d feel if you were him/her and you have someone bickering at you. You would feel bad right? Doing that for a few seconds before you let out anger or frustration can calm you down.

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