Despite being a high-risk group for depression, a lot of older adults find it hard to ask for help from their loved ones. This is especially troubling, as the older adult age group is seeing rising suicide rates. The reason why so many older adults succumb to depression is that many still believe the stigma surrounding depression and are afraid of burdening their families with their condition. For this reason alone, caregivers looking after older adults need to do all they can to help their loved ones understand that depression is anormal part of life and aging.
In this post, we’ll discuss how you can help older adults who are suffering from depression.
Be Quick to Recognize the Symptoms
It can be difficult to recognize the signs and symptoms of depression in older adults because they may be different from what we usually see in younger folks. For instance, some older adults who suffer from depression don’t have sadness as their main symptom. Instead, they may exhibit less obvious symptoms such as loss of focus or a sudden disinterest in hobbies. Another reason why it can be hard to determine if an older loved one has depression is that it can sometimes look like other prevalent conditions in the age group such as Alzheimer’s disease. In order to help an older adult gain a better grasp over their depression, you should be aware of the common signs and symptoms such
- Feelings of despair or sadness
- Weight changes
- Memory problems
- Feelings of inadequacy
- Irregular sleeping patterns
- Chronic fatigue and demotivation
- Forgoing basic self-care
Encourage Them to Seek Professional Help
The core concept of depression prevents a person from wanting or being able to seek help, as this condition impacts their self-esteem and drains their energy. As such, one of your main goals when helping an loved one deal with their condition should be to encourage them to seek treatment and open up to mental health professionals. But as we’ve mentioned, a great deal of stigma is associated with mental health issues, making it difficult to convince a loved one to seek help. Thankfully, there are a myriad of mental health professionals who can help your loved one manage their depression. For one, you can employ the services of a local counselor. Counselors are tasked with helping individuals explore their feelings, acknowledge them, and eventually accept them. In addition, counselors can also help older adults find healthy coping mechanisms and self-care techniques.
You can also approach nurses who specialize in mental health to help them come to terms with their depression. As an increasingly popular career in the nursing field, nursing specialists who focus on mental health can assess, diagnose mental health disorders, and recommend necessary treatments. There are also some gerontology-focused nurses who, on top of assisting them with mental health care, can also help them cope with Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis, and more. You can find them in hospitals, hospice centers, and extended-care facilities.
Support Them as Much as You Can
You should do whatever you can to show an older loved one that you’re willing to go through this process with them. There are many ways to show your support. For example, simply showing that you’re willing to listen can help raise their spirits. Always remember to avoid judgmental responses and thank them for being open with you. In addition, ensuring that they stick to their treatment plan is also another way to show support. Older adults may have difficulty remembering to take their medications and keeping their appointments, so take it upon yourself to remind them whenever you can.
written for gahope.org
by Rhia Jade