Depression is difficult to manage at any age but even more so in elder years. Most people are experiencing a bundle of life changes already- changes in health, physical ability, nutrition needs, independence, and more. Dealing with depression in addition is often more than most can handle. Here are a few ways you can help:
Your Guide for Preventing Depression
While depression isn’t completely preventable, there are measures you can take to lower your chances and ease the effects. Loneliness is extremely common among seniors and tends to lead to depression in many. The following guide will prove helpful in lowering the chances of depression for your senior loved ones.
1) Stress Management
Stress is a big factor in causing depression among seniors. Anything you can do to help lower their stress level or learn to manage stress better will be critical. This includes helping them adjust to big changes such as moving to an assisted living facility or the death of a loved one. Be careful not to take over everything for them. This often only reinforces any feelings of uselessness they may have.
2) Stay Social
The best way to combat loneliness is to spend time with friends and family regularly. It’s important for seniors to surround themselves with people and engage in regular meaningful conversation. We are social beings and need meaningful relationships to thrive.
3) Healthy Living
Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly goes a long way to improving how you feel. For seniors, metabolism typically slows down. If they keep active, it won’t be as profound as otherwise, however it will still be slower than what they may have been used to. This means they’ll need to eat less to maintain a healthy weight, so the food they eat needs to be nutrition-packed. A diet high in fiber, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein is ideal. It’s also important to keep active.
4) Regular Checkups
It’s imperative to overall health for seniors to get their regular medical checkups. Having a doctor monitor your vitals and overall health is key in detecting illness and disease as early as possible. This gives the best chance for the quickest recovery. Prolonged illness can worsen the effects of depression. If diagnosed with depression, make sure they take all prescribed medication.
5) Take Symptoms Seriously
It’s important not to brush off any symptoms of depression in seniors. Look for lasting changes in their normal behavior such as not eating or loss of interest in otherwise beloved activities. If it lasts more than a couple of weeks, it could indicate depression.
6) Manage Decisions
When a senior loved one is experiencing a period of depression, it’s important for them to not make any major decisions until it’s over. Sometimes, they may need your encouragement and guidance. Help them keep their mind off major decisions while seeking treatment.
7) Get Plenty of Rest
Adequate sleep is key to peak health for everyone. Seniors who struggle with insomnia are more likely to experience depression. If they tell you about sleep issues, help them find a solution. Getting enough sleep gives your body a chance to rest and recharge for the new day. Without it, you simply don’t have the resources you need to get through each day.
Loneliness is a common problem for many seniors that often leads to depression. While preventing depression may not be entirely possible, measures can be taken to lessen the chances and effects of this illness. It’s important to have a discussion with the primary care physician and to help monitor symptoms. Get started helping your senior loved one with this quick guide.
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