Geriatric depression is common. As people become older, they feel as though their life is slipping between their fingers at a faster pace. They don’t want to deal with age-related medical problems, loved ones dying, and their own inevitable death in the future.
As a caregiver, you can help make geriatric depression better for your loved one. The first step is being able to identify it.
Helpguide.org has a thorough explanation of depression in older adults and the elderly. Some of the signs of depression for those in this stage of life are:
- Lost interest in hobbies
- Social withdrawal
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Sleep changes
- Loss of self-worth
- Increased use of drugs and alcohol
- Obsession with death and suicide
Everyone can feel this way sometimes, but it becomes clinical depression when it starts to interfere with daily activities and quality of life. Usually, doctors will ask if a patient has been experiencing these signs for 2 or more weeks before considering a diagnosis of depression.
Geriatric Depression or Dementia?
It can be difficult at times to know if someone is suffering from depression or dementia. The best way to distinguish between the two is memory. While memory problems can be part of depression, it’s more profound in dementia. Confusion and disorientation are also more prevalent in those suffering from dementia. Dementia can cause motor skills to be impaired as well.
It’s always best to consult with a physician when you suspect depression or dementia, so you can deal with the correct situation.
What Caregivers Can Do to Help
Depression is treatable with lifestyle changes and for severe cases, medication. The following will help you care for someone with geriatric depression.
- Schedule and attend a medical appointment. A physician will be able to determine whether your loved one has depression and the possible cause of it. Sometimes, medications can cause depression and changing to a different one can alleviate the symptoms of it.
- Encourage better sleeping habits. Depression can cause someone to sleep too much or not enough. Ask your loved one about his/her sleeping habits. Encourage him/her to get only 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night, and if it’s not possible for him/her to sleep, consider asking the doctor for help.
- Offer healthy foods. It can be difficult to eat well when older because of not being able to stand for long periods of time in front of stove. Offer to prepare healthy meals for your loved one, so he/she can get needed nutrition.
- Suggest activities to enjoy. He/she may not be engaging in activities because they are not available or he/she cannot get to them. Have a discussion of what he/she would like to do and then make a plan to do it. If your loved one doesn’t want to go anywhere, suggest activities he/she can do at home. Find where and what makes your loved one comfortable and engage in those activities with him/her.
- Spend more time with your loved one. Loneliness can make depression worse. Schedule to spend more time with your loved one and just do whatever he/she wants to do. You may see that it eventually can alleviate some of the sadness and low energy that depression can cause.
- Manage medication. Taking medication as prescribed is important. Helping your loved one take his/her medication correctly can help with depression.
- Seek support. It’s important to seek support for yourself and your loved one. Personal consulting can help. By speaking with someone like Kendall Van Blarcom, you can get the advice, support, and understanding you need while taking care of your loved one who isn’t acting like him/herself. You can also set up your loved one with personal consulting. Sometimes, it just takes a confidant to be there for your loved one whenever he/she wants to talk to help him/her feel better about life.
Contact Kendall Van Blarcom today for more information on how personal consulting can help you with geriatric depression.