By Michael Russell
Older people experience a lot of changes in their lives that cause depression. Depression is one of the most common health problems among the elderly. Changes in older people’s physical, personal and financial capacities may contribute to their anxieties and in return, they may end up feeling sad, alone, empty and rejected.
Depression in older individuals is caused by many factors including accumulated lifetime losses and medication. Lifetime losses usually include changes in the standard of living, housing and reduced income. These also include changes in relationships, the loss of a loved one or close family members and in instances where friends and family move away. Even the loss of a pet or important possession contributes to depression. Medication on the other hand is also a common cause of depression among older individuals. Older people oftentimes take a lot of medications such as sedatives, tranquilizers, high blood pressure medicines and anti-inflammatories, all of which can cause depression. Drug interactions can sometimes be dangerous and can produce depression, mental confusion and many other physical problems.
If your older loved ones are showing signs of depression, you can help them by trying these strategies:
A loving touch can perform miracles and for depressed individuals it can give them the assurance that they are cared for and loved. Show your affection, hug or offer back rubs. These maybe the simplest forms of showing how much you care but these will mean so much for depressed people. Communicate with your loved ones in a manner that shows respect and honors their dignity. The manner in which you express yourself and talk to older people can create a huge difference in how they will feel about themselves. Be considerate to the older person’s needs especially if there is physical barrier to communication. Face the person when talking to him or her and use short sentences as much as possible, especially if the person has hearing difficulty.
Respect their preferences and routines. They may be old and dependent upon your help but they too have lifelong routines and patterns that they need to follow for a sense of continuity and that needs to be respected.
The worst thing we do for our elderly loved ones is strip them of their dignity and control. In our desire to help them and make life easier for them, we tend to take over their lives and be in full control. Always bear in mind that overprotecting your older loved ones will only drive them to depression. No one likes to have his or her control and dignity taken away. Encourage them therefore to decide for themselves and always respect their privacy.
Finally, let them continue to be involved with life’s activities. Being old doesn’t mean staying inactive and glued to their beds. Help them become involved in meaningful activities that will spark their interest and enthusiasm. Involve them in volunteer activities or get them into crafts or hobbies that will make them look forward to another day. It is by being involved with life’s activities that older people will find worth in themselves.
Your Independent guide to Depression
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