Understanding and recognizing depression, especially in seniors, can be difficult. With over 300 million people worldwide showing symptoms of depression, it is a widespread problem, yet it continues to endure unyielding stigmatization.
Depression in seniors is a growing concern, and it is not a natural part of aging. Woodland Ridge Assisted Living would like to recognize those dealing with depression and offer helpful information to assist families in better understanding the condition, and overcoming stigmas.
Understanding, Not Solving
Depression should never be approached as a “problem that needs to be solved.” Whether your loved one is dealing with seasonal depression (Seasonal Affective Disorder) or a form of long-term depression (Persistent Depressive Disorder), telling them to “smile more” or “be happy” can be more hurtful than helpful. While smiling or trying to be positive may seem like good advice, it may make your loved one feel unheard.
Ask your loved one how you can help or if there’s anything you can do in general. In order to help the senior in your life, it’s important to do your part to understand why they feel the way they do, and to make sure they know you are available to talk, listen, or offer support.
Patience, Not Prying
If you are concerned about the senior in your life, don’t let that concern turn into frustration. While many may assume it is better to talk through issues rather than keeping them bottled inside, it is best to allow your loved one to open up when they are ready. Patience is one of the crucial characteristics that your loved one needs to see from you.
When your loved one is ready to talk to you, they will. Pushing the issue or attempting to force them to communicate is a counterproductive action that can damage your relationship, and add unnecessary stress to you and your loved one.
Commitment and Community
Depression is challenging, and there is no simple answer or single method of intervention. Many things can cause depression in seniors, and the type of depression and how long it lasts can vary. Even certain medications taken for health conditions such as diabetes or heart disease may cause side effects that contribute to feelings of depression. The best thing you can do to help the senior in your life is to be there for them. The best thing they could do for themselves is to be open about their feelings and struggles and be willing to seek help. Treatment choices differ by person, and sometimes multiple treatment options may be required to find the right one. It is important to keep trying until a treatment option is found that works for your loved one.
Depression, particularly in seniors, can result from a complex mix of social, psychological, and biological factors. People who have gone through adverse life events such as bereavement or physical changes, i.e. loss of mobility, are more likely to develop depression. If you are looking for additional resources regarding senior health, we invite you to visit our Woodland Ridge Assisted Living blog for more information.