For many seniors, living on their own can bring on a multitude of problems. One of the bigger problems that seniors face is social isolation which can bring on feelings of depression, whicah can then lead to larger issues like cardiac arrest, mental instability, increased risk of suicidal thoughts, and other mental and medical problems. However, there are many ways to prevent this issue, some of them include visiting or joining a senior community that have assisted living facilities, taking prescription medications, and consulting with an experienced professional like a therapist.
Before we find out how to prevent depression in seniors, we need to understand what it is and how it tends to be a growing problem for aging individuals like yourself or someone you know.
Understanding Depression in Seniors
Contrary to what you believe or heard from others, depression is not a normal part of aging. We assumed that depression is a part of aging in the body, when in reality, it isn’t. Depression while growing is caused by several things that we experienced in life such as certain life events, changes in one’s own lifestyle, or undergoing changes in one’s own body.
Depression is often related to the fear of the unknown and one’s ambiguity in life. These are common in certain life changes like recently becoming a widow/widower, changes in the family, or moving into a new location like a senior living area with assisted living facilities.
Another reason depression might occur could be due to a side effect coming from a medication that a senior might be taking. This kind of side effect is more prevalent if the prescription taker is taking multiple medications. Since seniors’ bodies differ from those who are younger, they are more likely to be susceptible to the side effects which include depression.
Medications and over the counter drugs like the following are known to cause depression in seniors.
- Blood pressure medicines
- Sleeping pills
- Beta-blocking medications
- Heart disease medications
- High-cholesterol medications
Check to see if the medications you or a loved one is taking are viable to causing depression. Assisted living facilities and other senior residential communities that manage medications should also be checked to ensure quality control, proper dosage, and proper timing of medication taking.
Symptoms Associated with Senior Depression
Depression can happen to anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, or background. If you or someone you know experience symptoms of depression, it is best to talk with them and make sure everything is all right.
- Thoughts or feelings of hopelessness, fears, or despair.
- Unexplained aches and pains.
- Loss of motivation or interest in hobbies or socializing with others.
- Sleeping problems (insomnia, oversleeping, or daytime sleepiness)
- Abuse of alcohol, prescription drugs, or illicit drugs.
- Slow movement or speech
- Memorization issues
- Lack of concern regarding personal appearance or health (missing meals, not taking prescribed medications, lack of hygiene)
While these symptoms don’t usually indicate depression automatically they do raise concerns. People with depression don’t feel sad at all, they could be grieving over something. One way to know if someone is grieving or depressed is knowing that people who are grieving may have moments of pleasure or happiness. Those who are suffering from depression show ongoing signs and symptoms.
What Can I do About Depression in Seniors?
Interacting with seniors who suffer from depression is the right step to take. However, talking to them can be difficult since most seniors feel like they might become a burden to those around them or their families. There are ways to get around them and start them on the path to better mental health and living.
- Talk to seniors on how they feel.
Talking to a senior who show signs of depression is a nice but subtle way to have them open to others. It’s important to listen to them and respect how they feel, that way they feel supported and comfortable.
- Speak to them on a level they understand.
You want to avoid using words that might cause them to get defensive or create an unwanted reaction. Avoid using words like “depression” or “therapy”, as it might feel offended. What you want to do is comfort them and figure out how to resolve any of the symptoms they are experiencing.
- Remember that depression is an illness and is not easy to alleviate.
Depression is not something that can be cured overnight or treated with a single face to face talk. Don’t tell those with depressed to pull themselves together or to “suck it up” as it’ll make things worse. Talking with others is to alleviate their problem but most likely extra will be needed.
- Don’t try to control their lifestyle, instead guide them.
Just because someone is depressed doesn’t mean you should do their day to day activities for them. Doing work for them is not helpful at all, as it reinforces their feelings that they are not contributing to themselves and societies. What should you do is support them when they perform certain tasks and help them only when necessary.
How Assisted Living Facilities and Communities Can Help Fight Depression
These days, seniors are more open to the idea of becoming a part of a residential community. Whether they promote an independent lifestyle or that their community has specialized assisted living facilities, there is something for everyone. If you or anyone you know is experiencing signs of depression, consider the idea of becoming a part of one of these communities, as they offer ways to help get through the problems associated with depression.
Social Activities and Interaction Help Ward Off Depression
Senior living communities always offer something for its seniors to do. The reason they do that is because activities give seniors a form of entertainment, but also to promote socializing and connection with others with similar backgrounds.
In assisted living and independent living communities, there are hosted events for seniors to get know one another. Not only are people likely to make new friends but also find new relationships as well.
Assisted Living Keeps the Mind Proactive
Keeping your mind active and excited is a nice way to prevent thoughts that can lead to depression and other related issues. Since assisted living facilities keeps its residents’ active with the events, hobbies, and other features they offer, your mental health and outlook on life will be better.
Thinking about Joining a Senior Living Community
Joining a senior living community is a tough decision, but if you think you or someone you know needs help through their daily lives, then it should be considered. However, the decision should be researched, thought out, and discussed with friends and family.
You can start off by finding the different communities in the area and see if they can help those who are going through depression. If you or anyone else feel unsure about joining these communities consider taking the Smart Choices Tool to figure out if what kind of senior living is best for you. After you found the right communities, sit down with those close to you and discuss about the subject of senior living. Explain why you or someone you love might fit in, especially if the community can help those suffering from senior depression. It’ll be a long process, but it will be the right step towards a better life.