Update on Coronavirus / COVID-19 and senior safety, click here for more information.

6 Ways to Help Your Aging Loved One with Depression

By , 9:00 am on

Depression can affect people of all ages. When seniors are confronted with major lifestyle changes, illnesses, or the realities of aging, they may develop mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. Here are six ways caregivers can help seniors manage depression.

1. Spot the Signs

As with most emotional health issues, the first step to managing depression is recognizing it. Be on the lookout for some of the major signs of depression, which may be impacting your aging loved one’s life in many ways. Common signs include persistent feelings of sadness, lack of energy, and loss of interest in hobbies. Over time, the symptoms of depression often become visible. Your loved one may start to neglect personal hygiene and/or lose weight.

2. Understand the Causes of Depression

On a chemical level, depression is caused by inadequate production of mood-regulating neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Inadequate serotonin production isn’t just a neurological quirk. These chemical realities are shaped by lifestyle, behavioral patterns, and other factors. For seniors who develop depression in their later years, the mood disorder is often triggered by major life changes, ranging from the deaths of loved ones to moving out of their homes. It can also be caused by financial anxiety, feelings of purposelessness, loneliness, and health problems. If you suspect your loved one has depression, try to identify the root cause of the issue. 

A senior’s anxiety or sadness can be mitigated with the assistance and companionship of a compassionate professional caregiver. Many seniors prefer aging in place over moving to an assisted living facility. If your senior loved one needs assistance to remain safe and comfortable while living at home, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading North Broward senior home care agency. Our dedicated in-home caregivers can assist with meal prep, bathing and grooming, exercise, medication reminders, and many other important tasks.

3. Learn the Connection Between Depression and Other Medical Conditions

Depression has a complicated connection with other medical conditions. For example, seniors living with chronic arthritis pain may develop depression as a reaction to this pain. In such cases, depression and pain are connected, but the arthritis merely creates a reality in which depression is more likely to develop. Other disorders can directly impact brain chemistry and lead to the development of neurological health conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, dementia, and Alzheimer’s. Certain medications can also increase the risk of depression, including some prescribed to treat blood pressure, high cholesterol, chronic pain, and gastrointestinal disorders. If your loved one undergoes a sudden mood shift, look at the list of side effects on his or her latest prescription. Your loved one may be having a reaction to a mood-altering medication. 

When depression is due to a health condition such as dementia, help is just a phone call away. Dementia can be challenging for seniors to manage, but they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional dementia care. North Broward seniors can benefit greatly from the Cognitive Therapeutics Method (CTM), an activities-based program designed to promote cognitive health and delay the onset of dementia. CTM is included at no additional charge with any of the in-home care plans provided by Home Care Assistance.

4. Increase Engagement

If your loved one’s depression isn’t the result of a prescription or another illness, encourage him or her to seek out new ways to engage with the world. Being disconnected only worsens depression. Your loved one can try new hobbies, join a club, or volunteer. You can support your loved one by providing transportation and searching for new ways to keep him or her socially and mentally stimulated.

5. Focus on Other Types of Health

Physical health and mental health are intrinsically linked. Seniors battling with depression may discover that when they focus on their physical health—by exercising and eating healthy—their mood increases. Regular exercise helps the brain produce mood-stabilizing neurotransmitters, and a healthy diet gives the body the nutrition it needs to support emotional wellbeing.

6. Seek Outside Help

If lifestyle changes aren’t enough, seniors should seek help from trained professionals. Psychiatrists and therapists can prescribe medication and therapeutic treatment plans. Seniors with depression may benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy, religious counseling, and support groups.

Emotional issues can have a significant impact on overall health and wellbeing, so they shouldn’t be dismissed or ignored. Seniors can face a variety of challenges as they age, many of which can be mitigated with the help of professional in-home caregivers who provide high-quality elder care. North Broward families trust Home Care Assistance to help their elderly loved ones age in place safely and comfortably. Contact one of our experienced Care Managers today at 954-906-5161 to learn more about our reliable in-home care services.