Depression has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. Although this condition may affect people of all ages, it appears to be more prevalent among seniors. These are people above the age of 65. It is estimated that over 2 million elderly Americans suffer from depression. The suicide rate among this group of people has increased recently and is now accounting for 20% of all suicides committed in the US.
Older people are more susceptible to depression because its symptoms are usually overlooked. Often, they’re viewed as part of the normal aging process or as consequences of other age-related conditions such as dementia or Azlheimer’s Disease. There is something anyone of us can do to reverse this trend.
One of the best ways of helping seniors with depression is by trying to understand what they are going through. Sometimes, they may deny that they have a problem and don’t want to visit a specialist. Always try to be calm with them. Find out what might be causing anxiety in their lives.
- What is making them worried?
- Have there been any drastic changes in their lives?
Catastrophes such as the death of a loved one can also be a trigger for depression in the elderly. In fact, many old people who lose their spouses tend to die soon after due to shock and acute mood disorders. Try to convince such a person to seek medical attention.
Talking is therapeutic for people affected by this condition. Experts concur that talking about our problems and worries somehow makes them more bearable. Most aged people lack someone to talk to. In most cases, they are alone and their family is far away from them, raising their own children. They may not talk to them about their issues since they don’t want to be a burden.
Just hanging with a depressed senior and keeping them company can make them feel better. It is not appropriate to do everything for them, however. Let them do some of the basic daily activities on their own. Attempting to do everything for them may reinforce the notion that they are now a shadow of their former self and they lack their own autonomy. That’s not a very good feeling, and should thus be avoided at all costs.
You can also seek help from an expert in social work with seniors to give a professional opinion on the best way to handle the situation. It should be anyone’s duty to personally engage in helping seniors as a social worker and not leaving it to family members alone.
Most seniors have no information about the clinical or mundane aspects of this condition. In fact, 68% of seniors over 65 have no information whatsoever about depression. That’s why most of them don’t seek medical help or simply cannot even recognize it. Aged people also face poor health, and may suffer from many life-threatening risks such as a higher chance of cardiac complications. Most of them erroneously assume that the symptoms they are exhibiting are due to their own health issues. They may not be able to distinguish symptoms of depression from the other ailments they are suffering.
Providing information might enlighten them and make them more open to seeking help. Offer them a positive view and be optimistic about their condition getting better if they seek help to encourage them into asking a doctor’s advice.
It is important to take care of our elderly citizens. After all, they took care of us once upon a time. An online master in social work will help, but in the meantime, let’s all take the responsibility and reduce the prevalence of depression among seniors in the US.