April 4, 2011
Depression in seniors is not to be taken lightly. A number of resources can help family caregivers identify the signs that their older loved one might be depressed and give them the resources they need to help them assist that senior. One such resource is the Home Instead Senior Care® network, which can provide older adults with the companionship they oftentimes need to brighten their days.
Q. My 72-year-old mother used to be vibrant and active. But since my dad passed away, she's gradually become more isolated and sullen. I'm worried that she's depressed. How can I know for sure and do you have any suggestions?
Only a doctor can know if your mom suffers from depression. Encourage her to make an appointment as soon as possible. When you have a diagnosis, you'll know for sure.
According to the Website www.NIHSeniorHealth.gov, following are signs of depression:
- feeling nervous or emotionally "empty"
- feelings of excessive guilt or worthlessness
- tiredness or a "slowed down" feeling
- restlessness and irritability
- feeling like life is not worth living
- sleep problems, including trouble getting to sleep, very early morning wakefulness, or sleeping too much
- eating more or less than usual
- having persistent headaches, stomachaches or other chronic pain that does not go away when treated
The www.NIHSeniorHealth.gov site, a joint effort of the National Institute on Aging and the National Library of Medicine, has added information about depression to their website in an effort to better educate seniors and their families. (Click on "D" for more information about depression.)
Changes that occur as people age – such as the loss of a spouse – can often lead to depression, although it is not considered a normal part of aging, experts say. If the diagnosis is depression, a doctor might recommend therapy or medication. In addition to her doctor's recommendations, why not encourage your mother to reconnect with the world? Rediscovering hobbies and activities can help her to find her way back to society.
Perhaps she is neglecting friendships and others with whom she used to enjoy spending time. Ask her to invite a friend to lunch or coffee. Churches, synagogues and senior centers also are great places for older adults to get involved.
Or, if your mother is not outgoing, why not call a local Home Instead Senior Care® office. The company employs many older adults as companions who would enjoy outings and activities with your mom. These CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, also can help your mother maintain her independence by assisting with meal preparation, light housekeeping errands and shopping.
With the proper treatment, hopefully your mom will be feeling better in no time.
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