As our loved ones grow older, they experience the benefits of the golden years, such as retirement, fewer obligations, time to relax and socialize with friends and family. However, the golden years can also bring with them life changes that aren’t so positive: isolation, loss of loved ones, lack of routine. As our senior loved ones adapt to these losses and changes, it is normal for them to experience sadness at times. It is our obligation as loved ones to recognize when that sadness leads to depression.
Depression is a serious but treatable medical condition. Seniors are at increased risk for depression and often under diagnosed. As a caregiver, how do we know if our senior loved one is experiencing a normal sadness or if it is time for additional evaluation?
It is time to get help if your senior loved one has been experiencing prolonged anxiety or sadness for more than two weeks and has been experiencing the following:
- Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
- Changes in diet (eating more or less than usual)
- Changes in sleep (difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much)
- Fatigue or lack of energy
- Feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness
- Decreased concentration
- Thoughts about death or suicide
- Social isolation (refusing to talk to family or leave the house)
- Physical complaints that are new or not responding to medication
Depression is a medical condition, like diabetes or high blood pressure. Unfortunately, if left untreated, the symptoms often get worse with time. As caregivers, we know our senior loved ones better than anyone else. If you recognize these signs of depression in your parent or spouse, it is time to get help.
The first step to feeling better is to make a call to your loved one’s medical doctor for a referral. Psychotherapy is often the first approach for treating depression. Medication may also be needed to help alleviate symptoms. For some people, the best approach is a combination of psychotherapy and medication.
Sometimes, prevention is the best alternative. If your senior loved one is socially isolated and lonely during the day while you work, an adult day care may be a great fit. Bon Vivant Adult Day Club is the premier adult day care provider located in Fenton, MO. Our mission at Bon Vivant Adult Day Club is to ensure our members enjoy Good Living Longer. We are licensed by the State of Missouri and welcome the opportunity to meet with you and your loved one to answer any questions you have about adult day care. Please feel free to visit our website at www.goodlivinglonger.com or call us at 636-343-1600.
Article by Beverly McKee, MSW, LCSW