One of the most important parts of elderly care is assisting a loved one if they are struggling with depression. Depression can be diagnosed at all ages whether your loved one is predisposed through genetics or not. With all of his or her years of experience, your loved one has gone through a lot of big changes, like retirement, the death of friends and unexpected medical issues. It can be a lot to cope with if not addressed in a healthy and timely manner. Untreated depression can seriously inhibit your loved one’s quality of life. Thankfully, there are natural remedies for anxiety and depression as well as other medical and mental ways to treat depression. Here are steps you can take to help manage depression in older adults.
The first step to managing depression in older adults is identifying the symptoms early. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), if your loved one describes feeling very tired, helpless, or hopeless, they may be experiencing depression and should seek help. For a comprehensive list of depression symptoms, visit the NIMH’s website.
There are three major types of depression diagnoses: major depression, Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia) and minor depression. Even minor depression can be very difficult to live with, so take it seriously. You may be wondering what the major differences between displays of depression in younger adults and seniors are if you have experience with depression in young adults. Seniors may experience insomnia and become very withdrawn, whereas younger adults may still sleep and socialize with close friends.
If your loved one has experienced a recent loss of a spouse, sibling or friend, grief may look a lot like depression. Give them time to go through the process of grief, because it may subside with time. However, if their negative feelings are noticeable long-term, take steps towards seeking help.
The best course of action for mental health elderly care is to get an official diagnosis from your loved one’s general practitioner. Once you know what kind of depression your loved one’s living with, a treatment plan can be made. A doctor may prescribe medication, like bupropion, mirtazapine, moclobemide or venlafaxine. Their doctor will need to take into consideration other medications. Don’t be surprised if his or her doctor changes the prescription after a few months. Some people have better success with different types of medications, and it may be a matter of trial and error.
Your loved one may not need medication if psychotherapy is most effective. Therapy will help your senior work through what’s causing their depression and come up with strategies to mitigate the negative feelings. Psychotherapy often offers more constructive ways of thinking that build positive habits and thought patterns.
To bolster the treatment plan your senior’s doctor has created, consider including natural remedies for anxiety and depression in your loved one’s daily routine. Nature remedies can be homeopathic, like brewing a cup of lavender or chamomile tea. They can also be as small as incorporating time to be out in nature every day or doing a short yoga or meditation video online.
Plan a trip out for ice cream or a visit from the grandkids. Giving your senior something to look forward to every week is a great form of elderly care. Switch it up and try to keep these trips and visits light and enjoyable. If your loved one is lonely, it may be time to consider home care, so they have a companion to talk with every day. An at-home nurse can provide your whole family support during your senior’s recovery.
It can be difficult to broach the subject of depression with seniors, because they may mistake their depression as a normal part of aging or feel insulted, because of generational differences in the understanding of mental health. When you speak to them, assure them that depression is treatable and your concern isn’t an accusation of character or strength. Ask them how you can best support them while they go through treatment.
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