Depression rates among elderly Americans are, well, depressing. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, depression affects more than 6.5 million of the 35 million Americans aged 65 or older, despite the fact that depression is not a normal aspect of aging.
One major factor that can lead to elderly depression symptoms is isolation. As people age, the likelihood of living alone increases. Furthermore, social circles tend to decrease for various reasons, such as lack of mobility, retirement, and loss of spouses and friends.
Friends and family of elderly loved ones can help them avoid isolation and depression by encouraging social activity and engagement with others. Here are some ways to help elderly loved ones keep isolation and depression at bay.
Pursue Interests and Hobbies
Hobbies are a great way to maintain a sense of purpose and mental stimulation in an elderly loved one's life. Many hobbies and interests, such as playing cards and golfing, also promote positive interaction with others. If the elder doesn't have many hobbies, visit a local senior center, which offer a variety of fun activities to enjoy with others. Another great option is enrolling in a class or community group with people who share common interests.
Many elderly citizens do not drive, so offering rides and helping them learn to use public transportation or other senior transportation services helps seniors maintain social connections and sense of independence.
The Need to Nurture
Another source of inspiration is having something to take care of. If an elderly loved one is capable and willing, they may benefit from having a pet. Pets are a great way to stay active and reduce depression. Pets are also a great way for seniors to be social – they're a good icebreaker for meeting new people and provide a reason to get up and be productive. Another option is to visit a local shelter to walk or play with the animals. Not an animal person? Even tending a garden can have a nurturing effect.
Staying active in the community is a great opportunity to see familiar faces and meet new people (of all ages). Volunteering is a terrific way to feel good about one's self and interact with others. If your elderly loved one is religious, encourage them to continue attending their place of worship. Many communities have free events to look forward to, such as concerts and festivals. Senior centers are also a great source for social events, activities and information.
Exercise is an excellent way to improve mood through releasing endorphins and reducing stress. It especially benefits the elderly by helping maintain flexibility and strength. It also contributes to a positive body imagine, making seniors more likely to want to socialize.
Seeing the doctor on a regular basis prevents and addresses potential health issues that may lead to isolation or symptoms of depression. This also includes regular hearing and vision testing. If a senior is unable to hear or see clearly, they'll be less inclined to be social.
Utilize Adaptive Devices
Make sure elderly loved ones use appropriate devices to compensate for age-related shortcomings and maintain their ability to be social. Seniors may avoid these devices due to cost or fear of appearing old, but by encouraging them to take full advantage of these tools, they can continue to enjoy a higher quality of life and avoid isolation and depression. These devices may include walkers, hearing aids, incontinence products, and much more.
Time with Family and Friends
Time with family and friends is crucial for seniors. It fosters relationships and contributes to overall happiness. These get-togethers become especially important for seniors who may lose spouses and former social circles. Time together provides human interaction, emotional connection, and a sense of purpose that everyone seeks in life.
Home care is a helpful ally in many aspects of preventing isolation and possible depression among the elderly. In addition to providing companionship, professional caregivers can provide transportation services, assistance with exercises, and help seniors continue enjoying interests and time with others. Furthermore, professional caregivers allow family members to shed some of their caregiver duties and enjoy time with elderly loved ones.
Caregivers are also great support for monitoring elderly loved ones' condition and watching for signs of depression, isolation, or other physical or mental decline.
If you find that depression symptoms persist, speak with your elderly loved one's doctor.