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After spending time with family members and revisiting treasured memories and traditions during the holiday season, it’s typical for a sense of wistfulness and sadness to set in for the elderly. And even though some measure of short-term post-holiday unhappiness can be expected, it’s essential to understand that it can grow into depression. Depression is a serious mental health condition that is common for seniors, but isn’t a natural part of growing older.

How can you know if an older person you love has crossed the line into depression – and, what can you do to help?

First, it’s important to understand the risk factors for depression, including:

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

If someone you love fits into any one of those categories, or if you’re simply concerned that the senior may be on the threshold of depression, watch for these warning signs:

  • Continual feelings of low self-esteem, anxiety, guilt, hopelessness, emptiness, or sadness
  • Fidgeting, irritability, or restlessness
  • A lack of interest in socializing or participating in previously-liked activities
  • Fatigue and listlessness
  • Changes to eating or sleeping habits
  • Problems with concentration, memory, or decision-making
  • Thoughts or conversations about the topics of death or suicide
  • Recognizing senior depression is an important first step to treatment. If you suspect depression in someone you love, take action right away. Depression should not be brushed off as something the person needs to “get over.” It is a chronic condition that requires medical help.

A doctor will need to evaluate the senior, and can then put together a treatment strategy, which may include:

  • Medications: There are some effective medications available that can have a tremendous impact on how the older adult feels by balancing mood-affecting hormones.
  • Counseling: A psychologist or other licensed mental health care specialist can help the senior talk through feelings and incorporate treatment methods such as cognitive-behavioral therapy.
  • Brain stimulation: If a loved one just isn’t responding well to traditional depression therapeutic treatments, ECT or rTMS could be considered, which use electrodes or magnets to impact the brain directly.

Additionally, there are actions you can take to help avoid depression in the seniors you love, such as by encouraging:

  • Socialization and engagement in pleasurable activities, including exercise. (Participating with the elderly individual will offer added inspiration and support.)
  • Following a healthy diet plan and getting at least seven hours of sleep nightly.
  • Speaking up about their mental health worries and needs.

An in-home senior care companion from Inspired Home Care, a trusted provider of elderly care in Barrington, IL and the surrounding communities, can be incredibly helpful for seniors who are at an increased risk for or experiencing depression. Our care providers are fully trained and experienced in meeting a wide range of senior care needs in the home, while providing the warm companionship to give socialization a boost and to bring a spark of happiness to every day.

Contact our aging care experts at 847-787-7572 for a complimentary in-home consultation for more information on how we can help enhance overall health and wellness for the seniors you love with individualized care in the home.