5 Tips to helping an elderly family member with depression

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5 Tips to helping an elderly family member with depression

Depression is something that affects people regardless of their age or status in life. It can strike a 14-year-old high school student, a 50-year-old doctor, and even senior citizens. Lately, more and more people are pushing for more awareness about the signs of depression, especially with the rate of suicide nowadays.

Most of the focus is on the teens, what with all the pressure and changes they are all experiencing. While it is not wrong to put the spotlight on the depression that teens go through, some age groups are neglected, particularly the elderly.

Some people even mistake the symptoms of depression in the elderly as just part of their getting old or a side effect of their illness of medication they are taking. Many do not realize that the elderly are also vulnerable to experiencing depression and even entertain suicide.

If you have an elderly family member battling depression, check out some of the tips below so that you may help through this phase in their life.

  1. Recognize the signs – it’s important that you study up on the signs of depression. Don’t just dismiss their crankiness or their silence for lack of sleep. If they feel sad or hopeless, do note how often. Check if they are prone to mood swings and cannot concentrate. Even their eating habits might change. They may also find that they no longer enjoy their old hobbies and even spending time with their friends. You need to be vigilant in spotting the signs so that you can intervene right away.
  2. Do not force them to see a professional right away – you may want the best for them, but try not to demand that they seek professional help right away. Making them go to therapy may actually make things worse. Take things slowly, talk to them first about their worries and anxieties so that you can also get an idea of what they are feeling and how you can help them. If they are more open to the idea of therapy, show your support by accompanying them.
  3. Avoid trigger words that might cause them to stop opening up – they might feel defensive if you use words like depression and the like. Maybe they don’t want to admit it, or it brings more fear into their hearts. Use words like sad, or feeling blue instead. The better you know your family member, you’ll also be able to find the right words to say without making them feel more anxious or defensive.
  4. Make them feel loved – always just show your support to them, Make them feel that you are not there to judge them and that it is your pleasure to be with them. Most elderly people do not speak about their struggles because they don’t want to be an inconvenience to their families. Make them feel that it is always okay to open up to you.
  5. Consider getting an animal for emotional support – it may help if you get a pet for your elderly family member. An emotional support animal may alleviate the symptoms of emotional disability. These animals do not require special training, but getting one, such as dogs for emotional support can truly change the life of your loved one.