Coping with Elderly Depression

Depression affects people of all ages and does not care whether you are 18 or 80. However, many do not realize how many seniors struggle with depression. Unfortunately, signs of elderly depression are frequently attributed to other conditions. As a result, elderly depression goes undiagnosed.

If you believe a senior you know is suffering from depression, you can help. Here’s how:

Start a Conversation

First, get your loved one to open up. Avoid words like “depressed,” “anxious,” or “mental health” if possible. These trigger words might cause them to become upset and shut you out. Begin by starting a conversation. Ask about their day, whether anything has been on their mind, or if anything is making them sad. Hopefully, you will gather information that highlights a potential problem. From here, you can breach the subject of getting help.

Getting Professional Help

Most seniors do not seek treatment for their depression. It is your job to convince your loved one to find professional help. However, do not immediately suggest therapy, as many elderly individuals may feel shame or guilt about their depression.

It may be easiest for them to consult a friend who has been through a similar experience. Many elderly individuals may also feel more comfortable talking about their depression to their primary care physician rather than a mental health professional.

Call David York Agency for Help

Follow our blog for more advice on how you can help an elderly loved one cope with depression, as well as information about the signs that can indicate elderly depression. Keep this in mind; elderly depression is often a result of loneliness and isolation, so call us to arrange unparalleled care and companionship.

For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, please contact us at 718.376.7755. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on TwitterGoogle+, or LinkedIn.

Tips To Reduce Elderly Depression During The Holidays

Portrait of the old woman in the winter

By: Anita Kamiel, RN, MPS

Senior Holiday Depression

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.

Those of us that work with the elderly approach this time with trepidations. It is a period when they enjoy time with their loved ones, but may mourn all they have lost in terms of loved ones as well as physical capabilities. I have tried to put together some helpful tip sheets in addition to some concrete suggestions on how we can help the senior loved one, caregiver and their families navigate joyfully through this holiday season.

So, what can you do as a loved one of a senior who might be having a difficult time coping during the holidays? Here are suggestions for alleviating this lonely time for seniors.

1. Really 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 using Skype to see how they are doing and to be there for them if they need to talk. Often, seniors just want to know that someone cares about them and that they are not alone.

2. Ask them for help and advice.

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 to prepare for the event. Even something as simple as 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.

3. Spend quality time with them.

Quality time with your loved ones is important all year long, but especially during the holidays. It can be a great remedy for seasonal depression in the elderly. Look at old holiday pictures, cards or videos with them. Leave them somewhere visible and accessible so your loved one can take a walk down memory lane when they are alone. Ask to hear their memories of the season or stop by to watch some favorite holiday movies.

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, view a family video or even enjoy a game night. Invite friends, family and anyone else you think your loved one will enjoy seeing. Conversely, let them have a say in which family gathering they would prefer not to attend.

5. 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. 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. You can help them decorate their house, wrap gifts or even make gifts. Also, a little extra help baking or preparing meals might be really appreciated.

6. Help them keep to a regular schedule.

With all that is going on around holiday time, it can be easy to slip out of a regular routine. It is important that seniors stay on as much of their normal schedule as possible including keeping up with their medication, getting about seven to nine hours of sleep and eating their three healthy square meals a day. It is equally important to not overeat or overindulge in sweets or alcohol. Be vigilant or tell their caregiver to make sure they keep up their strength during the holiday season.

7. If they are mobile, take them out.

There is no better distraction than getting out of the four walls surrounding them every day. You can bring them to social activities they normally attend or forums for their hobby. Museums in small doses could be quite manageable and shows are even better since you get to sit down. You could even take them shopping if they are so inclined in the busy season. Even grabbing lunch in the neighborhood could be just the fun outing they need.

8. Let’s get physical!

In addition to all the other physical benefits, exercise is great for mood improvement. It can be as effective as anti-depressants without the ill effects and toxicity. There are plenty of exercises designed for the elderly to do at their level of ability taking any limited mobility and stamina into account. Yoga and Tai Chi are also excellent low impact alternatives. Exercise can enhance their weight bearing, balance and muscle density. A qualified personal trainer that comes to the house might be a good solution for those who are unable to get out to classes or a gym.

9. Get them an iPad.

There are many studies that demonstrate the cognitive and psychological benefits of the Internet for the elderly. It opens vistas for them in terms of connecting with the outside world and like-minded people. It is also a great platform for connecting with grandchildren and relatives. Buy them an iPad if they don’t already have one, crack it open and sit together with them as they explore what is a new and exciting technology for them. They’ll learn a new skill that could spark some creativity for you both.

10. Consider getting a pet.

Don’t underestimate the value of pets in the life of a senior. Having a manageable, low maintenance pet can provide not only a much-needed distraction and companionship but a sense that seniors can still love and care for another living thing. These are important factors that can ward off the all too pervasive affliction of depression in the elderly. This is also an opportunity to employ an important form of therapy called therapeutic touch.

11. Arrange the time for them to laugh and put on a happy face.

If your senior loved one is not up to going out, invite their friends in. Help them make it a pleasant experience by serving light fare and arranging an activity they can have fun with. Even watching a comedy can provide comic relief for all involved. Remember, 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 seasonal depression.

12. You’re never too old for a spa day.

Of course, there is nothing as relaxing as a pampered experience at the spa. However, that might not be feasible for your senior loved one. As the baby boomers age, house call businesses are burgeoning. You can get everything in the comfort of your home, from manicures to massages. Calling in some spa-like professionals could also be a fun activity with their friends.

13. Hire a home healthcare provider.

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. Home health aides can also provide much-needed 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

Depression in the elderly is a serious problem that is far too often overlooked. If you feel the situation is really serious, consider bringing in a professional. There are support groups for all sorts of conditions which could be extremely helpful for appropriately directing your loved one to get insight and help from those facing the same challenges. One on one talk therapy and supportive counseling can help them work through their individual underlying issues without the risks and side effects of medication. However, when medication is deemed necessary, be sure to monitor their intake since the elderly metabolize medications differently than younger adults. You might want to explore some alternative remedies for depression such as omega-3 fatty acids, folic acid, SAMe or St. John’s wort. Also, be on the lookout for any warning signs of suicide. Tragically, when the elderly decide to take that step, they are much more ‘successful’ at it than their younger counterparts.

Anita Kamiel, RN, MPS, is the founder and owner of David York Home Healthcare Agency, licensed by the State of New York. She holds a master’s degree in gerontological administration and is fully acquainted with all factors related to eldercare services and the latest guidelines for seniors. Thirty years ago, she realized the need for affordable, quality home health aide services provided and supervised by caring individuals. You can contact her at 718-376-7755 or at www.davidyorkagency.com. David York Agency is also on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn.

Depression & Inflammation Linked: More Evidence Shows Relationship in Brain

depression and inflammation linked

Treating depression can be a tricky thing. 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.

Depression & Inflammation

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. Anhedonia is the inability to experience pleasure and can even persist in some patients who take antidepressants.

Jennifer Felger, Ph.D., 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.”

Research Study

The study was comprised of 48 patients who experienced depression. It found that an inflammatory marker was connected to 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. Conversely, they were in low supply in those patients whose brains showed connectivity.

Inability To Experience Pleasure

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.

Inflammation Previously Identified

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. It is likely 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. We would be happy 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. Additionally, they may find themselves spending the holidays without their significant other for the first time. These losses bring on a lot of strong emotions and can be difficult to face alone. These all explain why elderly depression can be quite acute during the holiday season. 

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 depression

3. 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.