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Warding off Isolation: Depression in Seniors - Aging Wisely

When one is depressed, he or she may not wish to do anything or see anyone. But isolation and inactivity only make depression worse. The more active you are—physically, mentally, and socially—the better you’ll feel. Isolation and inactivity can be contributing factors to depression in the elderly. Older adults who are socially connected and engaged in activities demonstrate high levels of life satisfaction.

Depression is not a normal part of aging-visit our article on signs and symptoms of elderly depression and contact us if you are concerned about someone you love.

Here are some suggestions for activities to reduce loneliness and isolation:

• Getting out in to the world – Staying home all the time leads to isolation and contributes to feelings of depression. It is important to be involved in some activities outside the home. For those with limited mobility, a home caregiver can assist with transportation and physical assistance to maintain activities.

• Connecting to others – Connections with other people are vital to mental health–this includes going out to visit, having loved ones and friends over, and keeping in touch via email or phone.

• Participating in activities you enjoy – It is vital to continue enjoying favorite past-times. One can modify activities to changing needs when ill, but many activities can be enjoyed despite any limitations. Families might consider spending time playing favorite games or cooking traditional recipes with loved ones, or can hire a personal companion to assist with hobbies. A computer may be a way to continue playing favorite games if getting out on a regular basis is difficult. Audiobooks (Pinellas County offers a Talking Books program, as do many library systems) can be used for those who enjoy reading but have difficulty with vision or holding a book.

• Volunteering your time – Helping others is one of the best ways to feel better about yourself and regain perspective. In Pinellas County and other counties in Florida, you can contact 211 for local organizations that might need volunteers.

• Taking care of a pet – Pets provide companionship and purpose. If your elderly loved one is moving to assisted living, find out about the facility’s policy on pets since many allow animals (though there may be size/type restrictions).

• Learning a new skill – Pick something that you’ve always wanted to learn, or that sparks your imagination and creativity. Local community and senior centers, such as the Dunedin Hale Center and the Clearwater Aging Well Center, offer a wide variety of courses and activities.

• Enjoying jokes and stories – Laughter provides a mood boost, so swap humorous stories and jokes with your loved ones, watch a comedy, or read a funny book.

• Maintaining a healthy diet – Avoid eating too much sugar and junk food. Choose healthy foods that provide nourishment and energy, and take a daily multivitamin. EasyLiving Pinellas home care provides meal preparation assistance for those needing help shopping, cooking and even having a companion with which to share a meal.

• Exercising – Even if you’re ill, frail, or disabled, there are many safe exercises you can do to build your strength and boost your mood—even from a chair or wheelchair. Your doctor or physical therapist can recommend an exercise program and there are numerous senior-oriented exercise options, at your local senior center, YMCA or gym.

Contact us if we can assist with resources for remaining active, getting help for a depressed senior or to answer your questions about geriatric care management services.

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