Late-Life Depression: What to Watch for and How to Help

Senior-Late-Life-Depression

Seeing someone you love struggle with depression is heartbreaking.

Unfortunately, their depression can have a negative impact on you, too, contributing to your own feelings of depression, loss of energy, and burnout.

Thankfully, there are steps you can take to help you and your loved one cope.

How to Help Your Loved One Through Their Depression

Late-life depression is common, with over two million seniors struggling with it.

Knowing how to help your loved one requires understanding why they’re depressed. Seniors experience depression because of:

  • Grief due to the death of a spouse
  • Loneliness
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Chemical imbalances
  • Disease diagnoses
  • The “side-effects” of diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, cancer, heart disease, and arthritis
  • Side-effects of medications

Once you know the underlying cause, you can take the proper steps.

One option is to talk with their doctor and pharmacist about medication side-effects, as well as drug interactions. They might recommend dosage adjustments or new medications altogether.

If your loved one is feeling lonely, spend time with them more often if you can. Ask friends and family members to visit them regularly. Unfortunately, due to time and distance constraints, visiting in person may be difficult. A simple text, video chat, or phone call every week can do wonders.

Other helpful tips:

  • Nutritional Deficiencies: Talk with a nutritionist and fix nutrient-dense meals
  • Chemical Imbalances: Talk to a doctor about anti-depressants and counseling
  • Grief and Disease Diagnosis: Encourage your loved one to talk to a grief counselor or join a support group

3 Ways You Can Cope with Your Loved One’s Depression

Caretaking is hard work and feelings of depression can compound the emotional impact of your work. In addition to caring for your loved one, you need to take care of yourself, too.

1. Set Emotional Boundaries

As a caregiver, it’s easy to feel guilt over not being able to fix a situation so your loved one doesn’t feel bad physically or emotionally. Guilt is a normal reaction. Just remember that it’s not your job to fix everything or to work yourself to death. Doing so can drain your time and energy, which isn’t good for you or your loved one.

2. Take Care of Yourself, Too

When caring for someone else, it’s easy to let things in your life slide. Everything from spending time with friends and relaxing to getting plenty of sleep, working out, and drinking enough water can fall by the wayside. Check in with yourself often, set aside time to care for your needs, and remember: You can’t take care of anyone if you’re sick, stressed, and burnt out.

3. Ask for Help

Ask someone to sit with your loved one for a couple of hours while you do something nice for yourself. Ask other family members to share the load of caregiving – physically, emotionally, and financially.

How Home Care and Adult Day Can Help

A contributing factor to late-life depression is loneliness. A senior’s loved ones may be off at work or school the majority of the day, or they could even live out of the area. Their friends might not be able to visit them regularly.

Thankfully, home care and senior adult day care can serve as a remedy for senior loneliness.

When a senior goes to a senior daycare facility, they’re able to converse with their peers, something they desperately need. When a home care aide comes to their home, they have someone to talk with throughout the day. Having such interactions is refreshing and energizing!

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