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How to Help a Depressed Senior: Tips & Resources for Depression in the Elderly - Aging Wisely

The very nature of depression interferes with a person’s ability to seek help, draining energy and self-esteem. It can be even more difficult for today’s seniors, who were raised in a time when mental illness was often stigmatized and misunderstood. Some seniors don’t believe depression is a real illness or are too proud or ashamed to ask for assistance, or fear losing independence. Assistance from someone they care about can be vital.

You can make a difference by offering emotional support. Listen to your loved one with patience and compassion, not negating their feelings but pointing out hope. You can also help by seeing that your friend or family member gets an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Help your loved one find a good doctor, accompany him or her to appointments, and offer moral support.

Other tips for helping a depressed elderly friend or relative:

• Invite your loved one out. Depression is less likely when people’s bodies and minds remain active. Suggest activities to do together that your loved one used to enjoy: walks, a class, a trip to the museum or the movies—anything that provides mental or physical stimulation.
• Schedule regular social activities. Group outings, visits from friends and family members, or trips to the local senior or community center can help combat isolation and loneliness. Be gently insistent if your plans are refused: depressed people often feel better when they’re around others but lack the desire or motivation to initiate activities.
• Plan and prepare healthy meals. A poor diet can make depression worse and a poor appetite often accompanies depression, so make sure your loved one is eating right, with plenty of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and some protein at every meal.
• Encourage the person to follow through with treatment. Depression usually recurs when treatment is stopped too soon, so help your loved one keep up with his or her treatment plan. If it isn’t helping, look into other medications and therapies. and assist in finding a good medical provider.
• Make sure all medications are taken as instructed. Remind the person to obey doctor’s orders about the use of alcohol while on medication. Help them remember when to take their dose, or consider home health medication management services.
• Watch for suicide warning signs. Seek immediate professional help if you suspect that your loved one is thinking about suicide.

Aging Wisely can help with ways to approach your loved one, assessments, community resources to assist and advocacy to get a good diagnosis and treatment. Many times a geriatric care manager visiting the person at home seems less threatening than initially visiting a psychiatrist. The care manager can then build rapport and help the person seek treatment, as well as make creative recommendations for families about how to assist the depressed person and services that may assist with the above.

EasyLiving, Inc. is our licensed, Florida home care company
and provides many valuable services to support families. Their home caregivers can assist in keeping your loved one active and engaged, as well as safe. EasyLiving home care aides can provide medication management, healthy meal preparation and assistance with personal care and companionship.

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