Home health care services may not be thought necessary if an elderly loved one simply seems uninterested in going out, or is listless. However, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, depression in retirees is “a major public health problem.” And, depression is a biological and medical–as well as a psychological–illness.
The WebMD describes depression’s commonness, and its symptoms:”Late-life depression affects about 6 million Americans age 65 and older.” Seniors may complain of general aches and pains, and that they don’t sleep well, instead of the sadness and irritability typically attributed to depression.
Who is most at risk for depression? The WebMD lists seniors who are “female, single, lack a supportive social network,” and who have suffered “stressful life events.”–like the deaths of family and friends, or one’s own health problems.
White men ages 80 to 84 are more than twice as likely as any other demographic to commit suicide due to depression.
Older adults who’ve had strokes, cancer, heart attacks, diabetes, high blood pressure, previous depression episodes, family histories of depression–and who are taking certain medications–are also more vulnerable to depression.
What can we do for older family members who’ve been diagnosed as “clinically depressed?” Try to help them past the stigma that seniors typically connect to mental health treatment. “Many doctors recommend the use of psychotherapy in combination with antidepressants,” explains the WebMD. In addition, “most depressed people find that support from family and friends is helpful.”
Psychotherapy often nudges seniors to “mentally reframe” their current circumstances. For example, the counselor may suggest, “Moving to a condo is not the most difficult change you’ve encountered. Think of the strength you mustered when you moved overseas for your husband’s job.”
If family members can’t offer daily assistance to older adults who need extra time and attention–or who want to get out of the house and shop, attend community functions or visit peers–please call contact us. We can help mothers and fathers follow their medication and therapy schedules, and escort them to activities that will improve moods and brighten spirits!