After spending time with family and friends and revisiting cherished memories and traditions over the holidays, it’s normal for a sense of nostalgia and sadness to develop for older people. And while some amount of temporary post-holiday sadness can be expected, it’s crucial to know that it could develop into depression. Depression is a serious mental health condition that is common for older adults, but is not a natural part of growing older.

How can you determine whether an older person you love has become depressed – and, what can you do to help?

First, it’s important to be aware of the risk factors for depression, including:

  • Loneliness and isolation
  • A non-active lifestyle
  • Stress
  • Chronic health issues
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Addictions
  • A family history of depression

If someone you love fits into any of those classifications, or if your family is simply concerned that the senior could possibly be on the brink of depression, watch for these warning signs:

  • Persistent feelings of hopelessness, sadness, anxiety, emptiness, guilt, or low self-esteem
  • Restlessness, fidgeting, or irritability
  • A lack of interest in interacting or engaging in previously-enjoyed activities
  • Exhaustion and listlessness
  • Changes to eating or sleeping patterns
  • Problems with memory, decision-making, or concentration
  • Thoughts or discussions about the subjects of death or suicide

If you suspect depression in a senior you love, do something right away. Depression shouldn’t ever be brushed off as something the person needs to “get over.” It’s a chronic condition that needs medical assistance.

The physician will need to evaluate the senior, and can then come up with a treatment plan, which could include:

  • Medications: There are some effective medications available that can make a tremendous impact on the way the older adult feels by stabilizing mood-affecting hormones.
  • Therapy: A psychologist or other licensed mental health care specialist can help the senior talk through feelings and utilize treatment solutions such as cognitive-behavioral therapy.
  • Brain stimulation: If a loved one isn’t responding well to conventional therapeutic treatments for depression, ECT or rTMS may be considered, which use electrodes or magnets to impact the brain directly.

Additionally, there are things you can do to help prevent depression in the seniors you love, such as by encouraging:

  • Socialization and involvement in pleasurable activities, including exercise. (Participating with the elderly individual will offer added motivation and assistance.)
  • Sticking with a healthy diet and getting at least seven hours of sleep every night.
  • Speaking up about their mental health worries and needs.

An in-home senior care companion from Morning Glory Home Care, an award-winning provider of home health care in Granite City, IL and nearby areas, can be very helpful for seniors who are at risk for or experiencing depression. Our care providers are fully trained and experienced in meeting an array of senior care needs in the home, while offering the warm companionship to give socialization a boost and to bring a spark of happiness to each day.

Give us a call at 618-667-8400 for a no-cost in-home consultation and for additional details on how we can help enhance overall health and wellbeing for the seniors you love with customized care in the home.