Of the 35 million adults in the United States who are over the age of 65, approximately 6.5 million suffer from depression.
If you have a parent or loved one who is exhibiting signs of depression (feelings of hopelessness, loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy, increased fatigue), it can be hard to know what to do to help them feel more like their old self.
These four tips are a great place to start when it comes to caring for a loved one who’s battling depression.
1. Encourage Physical Activity
Several studies show that regular physical activity has a major impact on older adults’ happiness and general health.
Not only does exercise aid in the production of endorphins, chemicals that minimize pain and promote positive feelings, but it’s also essential for seniors who want to maintain their independence.
Seniors who exercise on a regular basis -- specifically those who lift weights and focus on building strength -- are less likely to suffer from falls and fractures that can severely limit their mobility.
2. Encourage Regular Social Interaction
Regular social interaction is also important, especially for seniors who live alone. In addition to helping seniors feel happier and more optimistic, some other benefits that come with an active social life include:
There are lots of ways to help seniors get more social time. Arrange for family members to drop by on a regular basis, or encourage them to attend events at a local senior center.
3. Invest in Tools that Promote Independence
If they struggle with physical limitations caused by illness or aging, it’s easy for seniors to start to feel depressed and isolated.
One way to minimize these feelings is to outfit their home with tools that promote independence and make daily tasks easier. Some tools that many seniors can benefit from include:
4. Seek Professional Help
Many seniors are hesitant to seek out a psychiatrist on their own to treat their depression, but you should still try to encourage your parent or loved one to sit down with a professional and talk about what they’re experiencing.
You may also want to see if they’re willing to let you participate in the appointment with them.
Seeing a psychiatrist might be less intimidating if you’re present. You’ll also be familiar with the psychiatrist’s recommendations and can make sure they’re following their advice and taking medications as prescribed.
It can be hard to see a parent or loved one struggle with depression. But, fortunately, there are lots of ways that you can help them feel better. Be sure to keep these tips in mind and don’t forget to be on the lookout for early signs of depression.