According to Mental Health America, approximately 6% of Americans past retirement age suffer from depression. The elderly are at particular risk, especially if they require specialized nursing care. People already experience a long list of changes as they age. Between these sudden changes to routine and the need for intensive round-the-clock care, plenty of older adults begin to experience symptoms of depression.
While there may not be a way to completely eliminate every negative symptom or experience, there are a few steps you can take to help prevent depression in the elderly. These bad experiences don’t have to be a normal part of aging for your loved ones. With the proper care and attention, you can help your aging family members avoid severe depression later in life.
Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle
Depression is often connected to poor physical health. While paying closer attention to your overall health won’t necessarily cure depression, it can help with symptoms remarkably well. Encourage your loved ones to maintain a healthy lifestyle through proper diet, periodic exercise, and regular visits to the doctor. Helping them take care of their bodies will also help them take care of their minds. Additionally, encourage them to pay attention to their symptoms, no matter how seemingly insignificant. There’s no shame in taking proper care of yourself.
Keep Stress Under Control
Making a big change, such as moving to an assisted living facility, brings with it a great deal of stress and anxiety. That’s why it’s so important to make the transition and settling time as smooth and painless as possible. Support your loved one during the change and provide any help or emotional strength they may need. Keeping stress levels low will help immensely to alleviate feelings of sadness and depression.
Encourage a Social Life
Spending time with friends also helps quite a bit with managing depressive disorder. In an assisted living community, your senior loved ones will have plenty of peers to spend time with and get to know. Encourage your family members to cultivate new friendships and socialization as they adjust to their new surroundings.
Pro Tip: One excellent method of combating depression is to set short-term goals for your elderly loved ones. For instance, remind them that they have a movie night or family visit to look forward to. This can help them focus on the future rather than the negativity in the moment.
Supporting Your Loved Ones
Ultimately, one of the best ways to help combat or control depression is to show your loved ones that you care about them. Encourage them to continue leading a happy, healthy life and avoid the activities that contribute to depression. Above all, visit them and give them something to look forward to. The best way to prevent depression in the elderly is to be there for them.
Join the conversation to learn more about the risk factors to watch for and how to provide excellent support to your elderly loved ones.