Depression isn’t a natural aspect of the aging process, but older adults and seniors have a greater likeliness that they’ll feel depression, especially when accompanied by other health conditions. Because these symptoms occur at the same time as some of these health issues, the mental health of the senior in your life might get overlooked. Seniors go through major life changes that could leave them vulnerable to depression, such as losing friends, having health problems, or losing a spouse.
Here are five ways to help a senior with their depression.
1. Depression Is Often Linked to Feelings of Isolation or Loneliness
Visiting in-person is the best way to make someone feel like they’re connected with people. A meal at home, a shopping trip, a walk in the park, or a holiday event can mean the world to them (and to you). However, if you’re not able to visit your senior loved one often, you can stay connected with them through a regular phone call or email, or even send your loved one a handwritten letter.
2. Teach Them Something New
Most seniors feel comfortable using technology to stay in touch with the world. So if they’re confident navigating email, maybe the next step is introducing them to video chats. This opens a world of opportunity to meet with people face-to-face, even if they live far away. Besides, the teaching session itself can be a fun bonding opportunity and will pay off with continued contact, with you, with other family members, and with friends new and old.
3. Pen Pals!
Do you have young people in your life? Why not link them up with a senior in your life and make both of them excited to go check the mail. This has several benefits: the senior has a connection in the world and someone to share their stories and experiences with, and the young person has someone to practice penmanship with and a chance to do some storytelling of their own.
4. Observe and Encourage Good Sleep Hygiene
This is especially true if the senior in your life tends to nap in the afternoon. It can be a “chicken and egg” situation. A nap in the afternoon leads to staying up late at night, which means they don’t fall asleep easily, and then they need a nap in the afternoon to get through the day. These kinds of sleep issues can aggravate senior depression. To combat this, you can help by visiting in the afternoon and to keep engaging activities on hand (such as jigsaw puzzles, Sudoku, or word games). Don’t keep them up late during your visit, and make sure they remember not to have caffeine after noon.
5. Sense of Purpose
All these points can help promote a sense of purpose, which is one of the big obstacles in a senior’s life. For any of us, if we don’t have a sense of purpose, it may seem pointless to get out of bed in the morning. By finding connections with the world and events to look forward to, your senior will have more reasons to be engaged and interested in their life.
And, of course, moving to an assisted living community can help with all of this. Contact us today, and we can show you how your loved one can benefit from living at the Mission at Agua Fria.