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How to Help the Elderly Fight Depression



Studies show that people over the age of sixty have a significantly higher risk of falling into clinical depression, but it’s not actually the aging process that increases the risk. While the effects of aging certainly can be depressing for a lot of elders, that alone is hardly ever enough to bring about a major depressive episode.

So, what is it about elders then that makes them so vulnerable to depression? We will highlight some of the leading reasons behind this phenomenon next, along with suggestions to counter them effectively. Whether you are a caretaker, a family member, or an elder yourself, you will be able to use the info to actively fight against elderly depression.

Look Out for Signs of Depression

Depression can only be diagnosed as a medical condition by healthcare professionals qualified to do so. That being said, most of us should be able to tell if an elder is depressed by looking for the following symptoms.

  • Conversations that reflect hopelessness, loneliness, worthlessness, general unhappiness, a death wish, suicidal thoughts and tendencies.
  • Complete disinterest towards engaging in chats.
  • Persistent irritability and bad mood.
  • Facial expressions exhibiting sadness, anger, and/or emptiness.
  • Uncharacteristic tiredness and oversleeping without a valid medical reason.
  • Tiredness and insomnia at the same time.
  • Uncharacteristic inability to concentrate for long periods without another valid medical reason.
  • Malnutrition and dehydration can also be signs of depression, but that’s only if the senior is not cognitively impaired.
  • Uncharacteristic shabbiness and a general disinterest towards almost everything, even when it involves previously liked activities.

If you notice any one or more of the symptoms mentioned here, consult a physician first. If they agree it’s not a physical health issue, book an appointment with a psychiatrist or psychotherapist. Early diagnosis and treatment of depression in older adults can be very effective.

Do Not Allow Loneliness to Creep In

Loneliness is the most potent environmental factor that leads to depression, irrespective of age. Unfortunately, no other age group is more vulnerable to loneliness than seniors, which has made social isolation the leading cause of depression among elders. We tend to lose friends, family, pets, and some of our physical capabilities with age; all of which and more contribute to age-related depression among elders.

If you or someone you care about is leading a lonely life devoid of sufficient socialization, then care homes and senior communities can prove to be an active deterrent, as well as treatment for depression. Thankfully, there are care homes like that actively encourage independence and socialization among seniors. 

Participate in Physical and Mental Activities

The most effective natural antidepressant is physical exercise, followed by engaging mental exercise. There are several physical and psychological benefits to exercising both the body and the brain regularly, but that’s not just true for the elderly either. Nevertheless, physical and mental exercise is more important for aging and aged adults than it is for younger age groups.

All you need to do is engage in your favorite form of physical exercise for 30 minutes a day. Follow it up with a crossword puzzle, or a game of scrabbles to further boost the effects. Studies have confirmed that older adults who exercise regularly are significantly happier than adults of similar age who do not. The fact that this routine can also help you keep dementia at bay or slow down the detrimental effects of Alzheimer’s is a welcome bonus.