It is vital to ensure your older loved ones stay physically fit to maintain their health, and it is also essential for seniors to remain mentally fit! It is important to check in on how your loved ones are feeling, especially if they are elderly seniors in independently living. It may sometimes be hard for seniors to distinguish signs of depression; especially with trivial ups and downs. There are some common misconceptions with elderly adults experiencing depression while living independently:
- Assuming depression is just a part of aging
- Assuming loneliness or isolation causes depression
- Assuming physical pain is a sole side effect of aging
It’s important to remind our loved ones that happiness happens at any age – whether they are 7 or 72. Depression arises from numerous situations, and this does not mean that someone is weak for feeling these emotions. If you have a senior in your life residing in independent living, it is important for you to keep an eye out for the following signs of depression.
Signs of Depression
- Unexplained pains and aches
- Feelings of sadness and despair
- Difficulty concentrating
- Decrease of interests
- Loss of interest in hobbies
- A reduction in social activity
- Lack of energy, fatigue
- Increase use of drugs or alcohol
- Neglecting personal care (stopped taking medication, brushing teeth, etc.)
Recognize that these signs can save lives, especially with elderly seniors in independent living. There are various causes of depression, and it is important to distinguish if the senior in your life is experiencing grief or depression. The best way to differentiate between these mental states is to locate the cause of the negative feelings. Anyone may experience depression in their life. Depression may derive from a variety of health issues, such as losing mobility or from a reduced sense of purpose. Depression may also arise from loneliness, isolation, fears, or even bereavement.
As we age, we tend to lose those around us naturally. Whether friends or family, a death is always hard to heal from. Death and bereavement can lead to varying levels of depression. If you are worried about a loved one or are feeling negative emotions yourself, please contact a mental health counselor or call any depression-related helpline. You can also provide the contact information for your loved one and encourage them to reach out as well.
If your loved one is currently living independently and experiencing depression, there are ways to increase happiness in their lives. In some cases, your loved one may not be depressed for any particular reason. Some medications may cause suicidal thoughts or signs of depression. It is always a good idea to consult with a primary physician before creating an action plan. After consulting with a doctor and eliminating any medical symptoms of depression, you can help your loved one find happiness with various methods.
Help Them Get Engaged
- Having a loved one surrounded by support is a great way to help someone get out of their own negative thoughts. Encourage your loved one to join a new hobby or spiritual group, adopt a pet, or even volunteer locally. If your loved one is resistant to a significant change, try instead to take them out to a funny movie or a relaxing dinner.
Support Healthy Habits
- A loved one in elderly independent living may also be shying away from exercising regularly. It is important to encourage your loved one to get physical exercise and as much body movement as possible. Exercise releases endorphins which can alleviate negative moods. Also, ensure your loved one is getting enough sleep and eating healthy meals.
Seek Professional Help
- Do not self-diagnose or attempt to diagnose a loved one with a psychological issue. There should always be primary care and/or mental health doctors presenting a diagnosis and treatment plan. It is essential to have licensed professionals at your disposal to ensure any recommended health plan is adequate.
Depression is a challenging and painful situation for anyone of any age. It may be harder for an older loved one in living independently to recover from depression alone. One of the best ways to assist a loved one with depression is to socially engage them. A senior living community offers various chances for your loved one to become social and get involved. If you would like to speak to a HarborChase Care Partner to see what choices are available to your love done, be sure to contact one today.