With many people eagerly anticipating the joy of the holiday season, it’s important to recognize that for older adults especially, the holidays can be a time of deep sadness. Feelings of nostalgia from holidays past, grief from the loss of loved ones, and health problems related to growing older can all intensify during the holidays. As a result, the experts at American, Advocate and Whitsyms In-Home Care know it’s critical to keep your finger on the emotional pulse of the older adults in your life by watching for signs of senior depression and knowing what to do if you suspect it in someone you love.
How Can You Tell if It’s Senior Depression?
There are three key questions to ask yourself to determine if a senior is depressed:
- Could it just be a wistful trip down memory lane? Fondly remembering holiday celebrations from times past and wishing to experience them again is normal for everyone. However, a senior whose mood remains pensive long after the conversation shifts to different topics may be experiencing depression.
- How’s their health? Depression impacts physical health, too. Watch for a senior who has lost interest in following a healthy diet, who struggles with maintaining good sleep habits, is unintentionally gaining or losing weight, or who seems overly fatigued, as these can all point to depression.
- Are they enjoying life in general? Depression can be displayed through a lack of interest in activities that had previously been enjoyable for the older adult, difficulty with concentrating and focusing, and a general sense of anxiety and fidgeting rather than being able to be still and calm.
Clinical psychologist Lara Honos-Webb, who authored “Listening to Depression: How Understanding Your Pain Can Heal Your Life,” illustrates the difference between feeling sad and being depressed with an analogy to colors. “A person is blue if they have deep, colorful emotions in response to loss in life. Depression is more like the color black – there [are] no subtle colors to the emotion but stark pain.”
If you suspect senior depression – or even if you’re unsure – contact the older adult’s doctor immediately for help. Treatment is available, necessary, and effective, and the earlier depression is detected, the better.
How Can You Help a Senior Who Is Depressed?
Additionally, these tips can be helpful in supporting someone you love who is depressed:
- Encourage the person to stay physically active, especially outdoors whenever possible. It’s a beautiful time of year to get out and take a walk in nature.
- Remain upbeat yourself, reminding the older adult of how much you love them and pointing out the many positives each day brings, no matter how small.
- Create a list together with the senior of hobbies and interests they have enjoyed in the past, as well as new ones they may want to try. Agree on one or more of these activities to start doing together.
- Put on some music the older adult especially enjoys. Hum, sing, and dance along, encouraging the senior to join you.
- Most of all, it’s important to just be there, no matter what the person’s mood may be. Sometimes, just knowing you are there to provide love and support unconditionally can be incredibly helpful.
Since socialization is such an important aspect of mental wellness, partner with a referred care provider from American, Advocate and Whitsyms In-Home Care for a friendly caregiving companion to engage the senior in conversations and enjoyable pastimes.
For more than 30 years, American, Advocate and Whitsyms In-Home Care have been referring experienced home care providers with special skills and knowledge to make life the best it can be for older Floridians and the families who love them. Find out the difference we can make for someone you love! Contact the office closest to you to learn about our in-home care services:
- American In-Home Care – Serving North, Central, and West Coast of Florida
- Advocate In-Home Care – Serving Southeast and Southwest Florida
- Whitsyms In-Home Care – Serving Southeast and Southwest Florida
State of Florida License and Registration Numbers: 30211518, 30211651, 30211295, 30211390, 30210978, 30211293, 30211382, 30211504, 30211733, 30211535, 30211531, 30211710, 30211709, 30211045, 5661