Helping Elderly Family Members Deal with Depression
happy senior couple smiling fighting depression

When you have an elderly loved one coping with depression, knowing how to help can be difficult. Thanks to a complex mix of factors, older people are at an increased risk of depression, and seniors whose family members understand how to adequately address the problem will fare better than their unsupported counterparts. Because of this, it’s essential for the family members of seniors to understand the risk factors, signs, and treatment options of senior depression. Read on to learn more.

What is Senior Depression?

Depression is a condition that causes an individual to feel sad, hopeless, and lethargic. While it affects people of all ages, classes, and genetic backgrounds, it is especially rampant in seniors. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 7 million American seniors (Aged 65 or older) suffer from depressive symptoms each year. These numbers are startling, and it’s clear that senior depression is a real issue facing our older population today.

What Causes Senior Depression?

Depression is a complex disease, and various factors cause it. While it’s impossible to trace any case of depression back to a single causative issue, professionals believe that the following things all influence the presence of depression in seniors:

  • Genetics: There is some evidence to suggest that depression is genetic, and the elderly are more likely to suffer from depression if someone in their family has suffered from it in the past.
  • Stress or loss: Seniors who have recently lost a spouse or are experiencing stress because of a move (to an assisted living facility, for example) or a new life event (a newly diagnosed illness) are at increased risk for depression.
  • Shifting brain chemistry: Brain chemistry is a major factor in senior depression. When certain chemicals are imbalanced in the brain, depression occurs, and since seniors’ brains change markedly as they age, they’re at increased risk for chemical imbalances and depressive symptoms.

What are the Signs of Senior Depression?

Senior depression manifests in many ways. Some of the most common are as follows:

  • The senior may feel sad, hopeless, or empty
  • The senior may experience severe mood swings, and become angry, hysterical, or inconsolable for seemingly no reason
  • The senior may be unable to find enjoyment in pastimes he or she used to love
  • The senior may be unable to concentrate on things like work, friendships, and responsibilities
  • The senior may experience difficult with healthy sleep patterns, either sleeping barely enough or sleeping so much that their daily patterns and responsibilities are disrupted
  • The senior’s eating habits may change, and they may begin to eat more than usual, or stop eating altogether
  • Some seniors who are experiencing senior depression will have suicidal thoughts, and may attempt suicide in extreme cases
  • Physical symptoms are common with senior depression, and affected individuals may experience headaches, vomiting, digestive upset, and pain

If you notice any of the above symptoms in your senior family member, it’s time to get the individual to a medical professional for further evaluation.

Helping Seniors Cope with Depression: 5 Tips

If your family member has been diagnosed with senior depression, it’s natural to feel helpless. You want to provide support, but you’re not sure where to start. You’re not alone in feeling this way – most people who have a family member diagnosed with senior depression experience the same emotions. Luckily, there are things you can do to help. Here are five tips to get you started:

  1. Be available for your loved one

One of the most powerful things you can do for someone who has recently been diagnosed with senior depression is simply to lend a helping hand. For a few weeks after the diagnosis, it’s normal for your loved one not quite to feel like themselves. If they’ve been put on antidepressant medication, their sleep, eating, and daily patterns may be disrupted.

During this time, be as available as you can to the person. Offer to run routine errands or cook some meals to alleviate the burdens of daily life. Alternately, you can simply lend a listening ear. Most seniors feel confused by and afraid of their diagnosis, and the ones who want to talk will appreciate a willing ear.

  1. Get educated

The more you can learn about senior depression, the better. When you have the facts and statistics on your side, you’re better prepared to deal with the ups and downs of the condition. SAVE is a great resource for facts and information on senior depression for those who want online information. It’s also likely that the hospitals, assisted living facilities, and hospice centers in your area offer support groups aimed at helping friends and family members learn about and cope with senior depression. Call these organizations for more information.

  1. Accompany your loved one to therapy

Many doctors recommend therapy as a course of treatment for senior depression. If this is the case, you can help by offering to give your loved one a ride to their therapy sessions and, if they want, accompanying them to the session itself. Be advised that many seniors feel ashamed of the fact that they are attending therapy, and one of the most beneficial things you can do is to normalize the process as much as possible. Provide plenty of reinforcement about the fact that therapy is normal and healthy, and that there’s nothing to feel ashamed of. If it helps, consider supplying the senior with helpful resources on the country-wide rate of depression and the benefits of talk therapy. Knowledge is power, and these resources may help remove some of the stigmas from the process.

  1. Handle household tasks

If a depressed senior has stopped cooking, cleaning, or shopping, rally a team of people to take over these duties. Normalcy is a powerful treatment for depression, and family members who want to lend a helping hand can do so by cooking freezer meals for the senior, pitching in to complete household chores, and seeing after any pets the senior may have. In addition to keeping the senior’s life running, these simple things also help prevent dangerous things like malnutrition from setting in for the senior.

  1. Laugh (when appropriate)

We’ve all heard that laughter is the best medicine, and it can be a powerful treatment for a senior suffering from senior depression. If you feel like your loved one is up to it, consider taking in a funny play or going out to see the grandchildren. Laughter helps restore a senior’s outlook, and can make a huge difference in a person’s perception. Of course, it’s not wise to make fun of a serious situation, but a little bit of well-placed laughter can work wonders for a senior’s well-being.

Senior Depression Affects Thousands, but you can Help

While senior depression is a common condition, there are things you can do to help your loved one. By offering support, taking over household tasks, facilitating appointments, and doing what you can to restore normalcy and joy to a senior’s life, you can help your family member make his or her way through senior depression as gracefully as possible.





Related Health Tips

10 Unique Tips That Will Help You Survive the Endless Allergy Season

What is allergy season?When warmer weather comes around, so do seasonal allergies, which are also commonly referred to as hay fever. An estimated 35 million Americans start to sneeze and suffer from stuffed and inflamed sinuses, amongst other symptoms. This is because...

Why Getting Outside is So Good For You

Spending some time outdoors is great for mental and physical health, especially for seniors. It is a good idea to make going outdoors a part of your daily routine. Simply spending just half an hour outdoors each day can greatly improve your overall well-being and...

20 Easy Ways To Have A Better Morning Every Day

There’s a saying that goes, “if you win the morning, you win the day.” Nowhere is this truer than in home health. In a profession that’s so demanding and intensive, winning the morning is critical to being as productive, engaged, and efficient as possible. Here are...

The Early Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease: What You Need to Know

Alzheimer’s is a disease that affects hundreds of thousands of families every year. According to recent estimations, 5.3 million Americans are currently living with the disease, 5.1 million of whom are aged 65 or older.Because Alzheimer’s is so common, it benefits...

Top Qualities to Look For in a Good Caregiver

Caregivers do more than just look after their patients and attend to their needs. They nurture, and foster a bond that makes them almost a part of the family. Sometimes, they provide more than what is required of them.Many patients spend a majority of the last years...

Hearing Loss Guide

Many older Americans experience hearing losses of varying degrees of severity. In fact, more than half of all Americans over the age of 75 have some hearing loss. These hearing challenges can negatively impact their quality of life and disrupt relationships....

Going On an Outing With a Senior With Dementia? These 8 Tips Are For You

You’re Not The Only OneIf you dread taking your loved one on outings, you’re not alone.One of the hardest parts of caring for your loved one who’s suffering from Alzheimer’s is going on outings with them. Seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s can display embarrassing...

How to Keep Your Aging Bones Strong

 As we age, many people fall prey to bone loss and osteoporosis. Both of these conditions can cause bones to deteriorate and, eventually, may result in painful bone fractures. As it stands now, osteoporosis-related fractures are one of the leading causes of senior...

Having a Purpose in Life May Help Shield You from Dementia

As it stands today, the number of adults suffering from Alzheimer’s disease is projected to double by 2020. The rise in Alzheimer’s and cognitive decline has led some health professionals to call the current prevalence of dementia the “Alzheimer’s epidemic.” In light...

The Benefits of In-Home Care Services

Dorothy, the protagonist in the timeless Wizard of Oz, is not the only one to believe that “there’s no place like home.” A recent national poll conducted by the American Association of Retired Persons revealed that over 76% of participants 50 years and older prefer to...



Submit a Comment


+1 803-574-3069


717 Encino Pl NE.
Albuquerque, NM 87102

Store Hours

M-F: 8am – 11:30pm
S-S: 9am – 9:30pm

We are happy to announce that we now accept credit card payments for all your orders. Please contact us via live chat after you complete the checkout process to finalize your transaction securely.

error: Alert: Content is protected !!