Signs of Elderly Depression

Signs of Elderly Depression

As I work with families from week-to-week, I can’t help but notice the number of seniors who are suffering from some form of depression.   An unexpected health crisis, followed by rehab and the inability to return home safely, can be a disruptive and daunting reality for just about anyone. As a family member looking on, it is very hard to see a loved one suffer physically, mentally and/or emotionally. 

Depression can affect every aspect of life.  Dealing with depression can be even more difficult knowing they’ve recently lived life with excitement and vigor.  While some depression can be temporary, it’s not usually the case.  Let’s take a look at some of the signs and symptoms to be on the look-out for.

Physical Health
Any sudden illness, accident, surgery or chronic decline in overall health can cause an elderly loved one to lose a sense of purpose and slip into depression.  Other physical problems such as slowed speech, arthritis, severe pain or worsening headaches are often the predominant symptom of depression in the elderly.

Personal Neglect
Another early sign of depression is an obvious lack of attention to their personal care.  Neglecting to bathe/shower, wear clean clothes, take medications or eat a meal can be surefire signs that your loved one is struggling.

Anti-social behavior
Was your loved one once the life of the party, but now you can barely get them to the events? Did they enjoy certain hobbies once, and now have little or no interest in them any longer?  Staying indoors all day and not wanting visitors to come over can be another sign of depression in aging seniors.

Medication Side Effects
Many commonly prescribed medications have multiple side-effects and depression can be one of them.  If they are taking more than one medication, the problem could be compounded.  If you feel you or your loved one’s medication may be adding to their depression, talk to your doctor to see if you can change the dosage or switch to another form.

Sudden Mood swings.  
If your loved one is happy and energetic one minute, but somber and sad the next, there could be an underlying issue, especially if you feel like the change in mood wasn’t really brought on by anything specific.  Keep an eye out for sadness, feelings of despair, unworthiness or being a burden.  Be sure there hasn’t been an increased use of alcohol or other vices and listen for concerns about death and dying or thoughts of suicide.

Small Steps
Whether it’s the loss of independence, health or mobility; whether they’ve lost a loved one, a pet or a familiar home environment, loneliness and depression is quite common.   It is vitally important to help them stay connected and engaged in life activities.  Help them to join a book club, bring a meal and family over, maybe visit a local senior center together and seek outdoor activities.  Small steps can make a big difference.

Get Involved
Whatever you choose to do, get others involved and create a support network.  Remind them how much they are loved and cared for, but do so without smothering them. Be conscious of their need to remain independent. If they can handle their daily tasks, let them, but offer help in areas that makes sense based on their current physical and mental ability.

In general, you do not want to let your loved one suffer or think that they are suffering alone. If you see any signs or symptoms of depression, do not ignore them.   While depression can happen to any of us, learning the signs and being prepared to help a senior cope with life’s changes can make their “Golden Years” a much happier and healthier time.

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About the Author
Since 2008, Anthony Black has provided free professional guidance and insight to local seniors and their families who are searching for assisted living, memory care and independent living in Arizona. His hands-on approach and personal attention to the details of each case has helped hundreds of families transition their loved ones to a clean, safe, appropriate living environment.  

 

Feeling Guilty about Assisted Living?

Feeling Guilty about Assisted Living?

The decision to move a loved one to a safe independent or assisted living community brings up a lot of emotions.  Deciding to leave the familiar surroundings and comfort of ‘home’ is usually a challenge. Researching, touring and selecting the best facility for your loved one can be a very overwhelming and time-consuming process.  Although a ton of paperwork and the actual move-in will soon follow, the toughest hurdle for family members is not on any “to do” list; and that hurdle is called ‘guilt’. In my experience, guilt it is one of the biggest and most common emotional challenges faced by family member

Before, during or after the transition, guilt will most certainly show up.  The transition can be especially challenging if your loved one stokes the fiery furnace of guilt while being resistant from the start.  But even when you have the cooperation of a loved one and they understand the decision, guilt can still show up unexpectedly. 

Here are a few insights to help combat these feelings that could prove useful in the process. 

  • Recognize feelings of guilt. Understanding the source of your guilty feelings and remind yourself of the reality of the situation.  This is not anyone’s ‘fault’. 
  • Be realistic  Does your loved one have a serious health condition or need a much higher level of care than is possible for you to provide? If your health is suffering or someone could get injured in an effort to provide care, you shouldn’t feel guilty for making a change. 
  • Don’t be hard on yourself. You haven’t failed as a caregiver. You’ve made a smart decision to get the help they need.  You are taking care of your loved one by doing the right thing.  Guilt sounds like, “I should have done…” or “I could have…” and “I promised them…”
  • Seek Support  Gather as many supportive family members and friends that you can to help you stay positive during this process. Contact an advocate like VIP Senior Placement, where experienced professionals can help lighten the load and lend helpful insight with an understanding heart. 
  • Be OK with everything being OK.  Guilt can show up because we set our expectations too high, make a decision, then manage to ‘disappoint’ ourselves.  Keep your expectations reasonable and be “ok” with your decision. Remember, you’re doing your best you and you can’t plan for every possible outcome. 
  • Give it Time. This transition is life changing.  Give your loved one some time to adjust.  It’s been our experience that it will take 6-8 weeks to feel more at home and get comfortable.  During this “transition period”, give them space, but don’t abandon them.  Your loved one will adjust as the days go by. Keep in touch with the caregiving and administrative staff, as everyone is adjusting to one another.

 

VIP Senior Placement is a free, professional service that specializes in helping you locate the perfect assisted living or appropriate senior housing for your aging loved one. We provide a hands-on, strategic approach to help families locate and understand the options surrounding the assisted living environment while transitioning their loved one with confidence. #AssistedLiving #IndependentLiving #MemoryCare #arizonaassistedliving #seniorplacement

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