5 Simple Ways to Combat Senior Loneliness

senior loneliness

Isolation at any age can be detrimental to emotional health, but studies suggest that the effects of loneliness can be much more far-reaching. Dr. John Cacioppo of the University of Chicago Neurosciences program ran a 30-year study on the effects of isolation in seniors and his discoveries were startling. Loneliness affects mental health as well as emotional well-being and has proven to be a risk factor for cognitive decline, long-term illness and a shortened lifespan.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that there are many ways to help isolated seniors socialize and have more human contact. A few simple solutions can reverse loneliness, improve long-term health, and create a happier tomorrow for you or your loved one.

1. Get Out and About With Available Transportation

It can be difficult to find convenient transportation, especially in small towns. In fact, 41% of seniors feel that transportation options in their area are inadequate to meet their needs. However, utilizing transportation when and where it is available can help you make great strides in feeling less isolated.

Even a quick cab ride to a park only minutes from your home can make a big difference. Take the time to learn or discuss with a loved one the public transportation routes in the area so you are familiar with them when you need them.

Contact your local government agency to discover transportation options for the elderly in your area. Many churches and other charitable organizations are also willing to help if you only ask. If these options do not appeal to you, consider asking family and friends to take turns helping you get from A to B. While it may be hard to ask, most people are more than happy to help.

2. Volunteer and Make a Difference

Seniors have a deep reservoir of life experience and talents which has the potential to make them incredibly valuable as caring volunteers. Not only does giving back help others, but it can help seniors too. Volunteering helps you create a growing social circle while improving your own mental health and well-being. It’s a win-win for everyone!

3. Get Moving With Exercise

Exercise is known to increase feel-good hormones and decrease anxiety. In fact, even 5 minutes of walking has been shown to decrease stress. The good news is, the longer you move the more benefits you will receive. From stretching to even seated movements, there are exercises for every fitness and mobility level that can be beneficial to your health—both physical and emotional. It’s even better when you get out to a class adding an important element of socialization to the mix.

4. Enroll in a Class of Any Kind

Studies reveal a surprising truth: one of the most effective ways to combat loneliness—at any age—is to join a class and improve education. Classes not only help you to interact with the world around you, but they also serve as a great way to improve cognitive function. Striving to learn something new every day keeps your mind active and you young and healthy. Even a class on a hobby like art or bridge or writing can keep you active and in touch with people of similar interests.

5. Consider Home Care

Home care agencies are much more than just helping hands. They also serve as a support system and window to the world for seniors and their loved ones. Isolation is becoming increasingly prevalent in today’s digital world. If a senior is isolated from the world, chances are their friend or family member who provides their care may be isolated too. A senior care expert can free up time for both seniors and those they love to make time for relaxing, getting out, or doing something fun for awhile.

Loneliness is never permanent if we care enough to shed light on it. The solution doesn’t have to be difficult or require large amounts of effort. Efforts, even small, can make a huge difference and create a better, brighter, and happier future ahead.

Establishing the care needed and finding the right agency to supply quality assistance are two important steps to ensuring there is a high level of care administered in your absence. At David York Agency, we offer a number of home healthcare services. From home health aides to RN’s and LPNs, DYA will provide the level of home healthcare your loved one needs.

For more information about our qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide what services might be best to provide you and your loved one with the assistance you need.

If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.

Depression & Inflammation Linked: More Evidence Shows Relationship in Brain

depression and inflammation linked

Treating depression can be a tricky thing, and unfortunately, not all forms of depression respond well (or at all) to traditional treatments. But, a recent study may provide some surprising insight into one of the driving factors in depression.

According to this study, depression and inflammation are linked. More evidence regarding this connection was published in a November 2015, edition of Molecular Psychiatry. The study indicated that approximately one-third of people experiencing depression have high levels of inflammation markers in their blood. As a result, some suffer from anhedonia which is defined as the inability to experience pleasure and can even persist in some patients who take antidepressants.

Jennifer Felger, PhD, who is the Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University School of Medicine and Winship Cancer Institute, gave this insight:

“Some patients taking antidepressants continue to suffer from anhedonia,” Felger says. “Our data suggest that by blocking inflammation or its effects on the brain, we may be able to reverse anhedonia and help depressed individuals who fail to respond to antidepressants.”

The study was comprised of 48 patients who experienced depression. It was found that an inflammatory marker was connected with the inability of different regions of the brain to communicate. Neuroscientists could determine when parts of the brain were communicating because those parts of the brain lit up at the same time. Magnetic resonance imaging was the process that was used in this study. The inflammatory marker CRP (C-reactive protein) was in high supply in those patients who lacked connectivity, and in low supply in those patients whose brains showed connectivity.

Patients with high CRP levels were found to be correlated to experiencing anhedonia and exhibited the inability to enjoy everyday activities, including time spent with friends and family. The patients being tested were not on antidepressants or other medications during the tests in order to control for outside factors and ensure the findings were reliable. BMI (body mass index) adjustments were made to the findings which still remained stable. High inflammatory levels continued to be related to depression.

A previous study had found that those who had high inflammation and depression responded well to an anti-inflammatory antibody. More studies are planned to further uncover how to reduce and improve inflammation and the associated depression. More research is also underway to investigate the effects of reduced inflammation in treating hepatitis C, Parkinson’s disease, and even cancer. In the meantime, it would be a good idea to incorporate practices with respect to diet and lifestyle changes to reduce inflammation in the elderly in the likely event that they will provide overall benefits to their health.

At David York Agency, we work hard to remain aware and up-to-date of all issues related to the elderly and disabled in order to provide the highest degree of personal service to our clients. Depression affects people of all ages, but can often go unrecognized or undiagnosed in the elderly. If you or a loved one is suffering from depression, it is imperative that you seek the help of a professional.

For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate home caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide what services might be best to provide you and your loved one with the assistance they need. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn.

7 Tips to Reduce Elderly Depression During the Holidays

Although we like to think of the holidays as a joyous time of year, not everyone feels that way. It can be a depressing and lonely time for seniors—especially for seniors who are separated from their loved ones. In addition, some seniors might be reminded of lost friends or family members or, for the first time, find themselves spending the holidays without their significant other. These losses bring on a lot of strong emotions and can be difficult to face alone.

So, what can you do as a loved one of a senior who might be having a difficult time coping during the holidays?

1. Listen to your senior loved one when they want to talk.

When your loved one talks, listen. Encourage them to express what they are feeling about the holidays, good or bad. If possible, just check in with them daily either by stopping by, calling, or even skyping to see how they are doing and to be there for them if they need someone to talk to. Often, seniors just want to know that someone cares about them and that they are not alone.

2. Remind them how important they are to you.

Seniors often get depressed because they feel they cannot participate in holiday planning the way they used to. If you are planning a holiday celebration, let them know they are a big part of that celebration. Ask for their advice or help preparing for the event.  Even asking them for a recipe can make them feel included in the process. Most importantly, remind them how much they are loved by everyone in the family.

elderly depression3. Spend quality time with them.

Quality time with your loved ones is important all year long, but especially during the holidays. Look at old holiday pictures, cards, or videos with them, and leave them somewhere visible and accessible so your loved one can take a walk down memory lane when they are alone. Come over to help them decorate their home for the season or to watch some favorite holiday movies. Quality time with family and friends can be a great remedy for seasonal depression in the elderly.

4. Plan a family gathering.

There is no better way to brighten someone’s mood and show them how much they are loved than by surrounding them with family. Dedicate a special night for everyone to get together for dinner, viewing a family video, or even a game night. Invite friends, family, and anyone else you think your loved one will enjoy seeing.

5. Put on a happy face.

It is normal to feel tired yourself, and maybe even a little down, with all the running around preparing for the holidays. However, positivity is infectious. If you’re able to keep a smile on, you’ll spread that holiday cheer to everyone around you, including your loved one who may be struggling with a bout of depression.

6. Help them with their holiday planning.

Many elderly seniors cannot get out and shop like they used to. Depending on their physical health and age, they may no longer be driving or may not be able to move around a store or mall without assistance. Offer to take your loved one out to do their holiday shopping, and maybe even grab lunch. A fun afternoon out of the house will surely make their day, and it will help them check things off their holiday list. If getting out is not feasible for them, bring over a laptop or tablet to help them shop online.  It might be a fun experience for them. Also, a little extra help baking or preparing meals might be really appreciated.

7. Hire a home health caregiver.

If you do not have the time to help your loved one during the holidays, consider hiring a home health aide. An aide can help them with errands, decorations for the holidays, as well as preparing meals. Not to mention, home health aides can provide companionship. You will feel more at ease knowing someone is covering for you and helping take care of your loved one during what might be a vulnerable time in their life.

Depression in the elderly is a serious problem that is far too often overlooked. A home health aide from David York Agency can provide the compassionate and personalized care to help seniors through the challenges they face in the lonely winter months.

For more information on David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide what services might be best to provide you and your loved one with the assistance they need. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn. To find out more about hiring an aide for your loved one this winter, contact us today.