Many elderly people struggle with depression from one day to the next and, frighteningly, even those closest to them might not realize it. Senior citizens are generally far less likely than other age groups to readily admit to feeling depressed, as they might regard it as part of growing older or they might not want to worry younger relatives. Conversely, some seniors are all too aware of their depression and would love nothing more than someone in whom they can confide, but their isolation deprives them of this.
If you have an elderly relative who you fear might be suffering in silence, it’s worth knowing the warning signs of possible depression. Look out for a decreased interest in day-to-day activities, a decline in their appearance, unusually low self-esteem or an increased intake of alcohol. These could all point to depression and, if the elderly person isn’t willing to recognize it, it might go totally ignored.
If you know that an elderly relative is feeling down, it’s important to work with them so that they can get the better of depression. This often requires input from both parties. The senior should try to get involved in activities that make them happy or even to get out of the house for an hour each day, if his/her physical state allows for it. Sometimes, a few simple dietary changes like abolishing sugary foods and drinks can make a significant difference.
Family members could make a concerted effort to spend more time with older relatives if depression is apparent. Inviting them around for dinner, or visiting them for dinner once or twice a week, is a gesture that would be greatly appreciated. Above all, just be there for your elders. A routine visit or phone call doesn’t require much of you, but it can mean the world to a depressed parent or grandparent.
For more information on how to recognize depression in seniors and help them to overcome it, check out this infographic from Be Independent Home Care.