elder man leaning on his cane while sitting down

After spending time with family members and revisiting treasured traditions and memories throughout the holidays, it is typical for a feeling of wistfulness and sadness to set in for older adults. And while some degree of temporary post-holiday unhappiness can be expected, it is essential to know that it could develop into depression. Depression among seniors is a serious and common mental health condition, but is not a normal aspect of getting older.

How can you tell if a senior you love has become depressed – and, what can you do to provide support?

First, it’s important to know the risk factors for depression among seniors, including:

  • Loneliness and isolation
  • An inactive way of life
  • Stress
  • Chronic health problems
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Addictive Habits
  • A family history of depression

If someone you love fits into some of these classifications, or if you’re simply worried that the senior could be on the brink of depression, watch out for these warning signs:

  • Continual feelings of hopelessness, sadness, anxiety, emptiness, guilt, or low self-esteem
  • Fidgeting, irritability, or restlessness
  • A lack of interest in socializing or participating in previously-enjoyed activities
  • Tiredness and listlessness
  • Changes to eating or sleeping patterns
  • Difficulty with concentration, memory, or decision-making
  • Thoughts or conversations about the subjects of death or suicide

If you suspect depression in someone you care about, take action right away. Depression should never be brushed off as something the person needs to “get over.” It is actually a chronic condition that requires medical assistance.

The physician will need to evaluate the senior, and can then put together a treatment program, which could include:

  • Medications: There are a number of effective medications available that can make a significant impact on the way the older adult feels by stabilizing mood-affecting hormones.
  • Talk Therapy: A psychologist or other licensed mental health care professional can help the individual talk through emotions and utilize treatment techniques such as cognitive-behavioral therapy.
  • Brain stimulation: If a senior isn’t reacting well to conventional therapeutic treatments for depression, ECT or rTMS could be considered, which use electrodes or magnets to impact the brain directly.

Additionally, there are actions you can take to help prevent depression in the seniors you love, such as by encouraging:

  • Socialization and engagement in enjoyable activities, such as exercise. (Participating with the older adult will offer extra inspiration and assistance.)
  • Following a healthy diet plan and getting at least seven hours of sleep every night.
  • Communicating about their mental health worries and needs.

An in-home senior care companion from Hearts at Home In-Home Care, a provider of home and respite care in Overland Park, KS and the surrounding areas, can be incredibly helpful for seniors who are at risk for or experiencing depression. Our care providers are fully trained and experienced in meeting a wide range of senior care needs in the home, while providing the cheerful companionship to give socialization a boost and to bring a spark of happiness every single day.

Give us a call at 913-440-4209 for a cost-free in-home assessment to learn more about how we can help enhance overall health and wellness for the seniors you love with individualized care in the home.