tel:
01983 530458

How to Help the Elderly with Depression

Depression in the United Kingdom is a topic well known to many people. It’s an illness which doesn’t discriminate and can leave the healthiest feeling ill and the most popular feeling isolated and alone.

Unfortunately, older people are more at risk of depression than any other group in Britain and this can be caused by many factors such as loneliness or financial worries. Although medication is a great start to battle depression, it sometimes isn’t enough or it may not help at all in some cases.

 

Battling depression is usually a fight many elderly people feel they have to face alone. On top of the feeling of loneliness, depression can exaggerate those feelings if someone isn’t around to support and be an active person in their lives. What’s also unfortunate is that depression can be often overlooked and ignored as many elderly people will deny it or hide it as they don’t want to be a burden to their family. It’s crucial that we start learning and recognising the key symptoms of depression and how we could help those closest to us. It is reported that around 85% of elderly people with depression have not had any support from the NHS. So it is time we stepped in and helped as much as we could. Here are some tips on how to help the elderly with the battle against depression.

 

Most importantly, we need to focus on what loneliness does to the elderly. Loneliness has become a big issue in Britain and can cause mental health to deteriorate and cause feelings of isolation and not being wanted by friends and family. In this day it is undoubtedly more difficult to find free time outside of work as people are working longer hours to catch up with the inflation in rent and food. This unfortunately leads to a lot of us being guilty of forgetting to visit our elderly members of family, or something we promise to do soon but never get around to.

Yet the visits we give to the elderly are what could keep them mentally healthy. Try to find a routine that fits around your lifestyle that can also guarantee you can have a few hours a week with them. Imagine if a few family members did that, it would mean the time the elderly spend at home alone would decrease dramatically and erase feeling of isolation.

 

Let them lead the conversation whilst looking out for signs of depression

A lack of appetite, a lack of focus on conversation and odd sleeping patterns or loss of sleep is all common to see when depression develops. Look out for those signs but try to avoid saying words such as ‘depression’ or ‘anxiety’ as it could feel threatening to someone to be labelled with an illness that’s quite scary to have. Instead, listen to what they have to say and let them decide how much they would want you to know about their mental health. Elderly people are less likely to talk about how they feel because they feel a burden or that it will turn family members away from them.

If you feel that they’re developing depression, it may be worth to reassure them you’re available to help and advise them on what actions to take to fight depression. Symptoms are likely to get worse the longer you wait to treat them, act fast.

 

Invest into getting your loved one on social media. Reports show social media has quite a big impact on the elderly and their overall health. It opens up a whole new world where the elderly can easily keep in touch with their family and have a peace of mind that everything is fine and everyone is happy. It also means they get to rediscover things they loved by joining online groups and pages that can get them back into their old hobbies or inspire taking on new ones.

Like for young people, social media can offer a sense of belonging and a community that understands how they feel, all in the comfort of their own home and privacy.

Although like with anything, take precautions and make sure to implement safety measures onto tablets and phones along with spending time to educate what the internet contains and what to avoid.

 

Avoid doing things for an elderly if they can do it themselves. Depression often gives people a perception that they are worthless and useless. Doing everyday things for them that they can do themselves perfectly fine can only reinforce those perceptions. Individuality, even in the presence of a carer can give a sense of taking your life back and usefulness, also reversing the feeling like they’re a burden.

 

Always try to promote social interaction and activities in their lives. Physical health and fitness is a good base to keep the mind healthy too, so encourage them to take on new hobbies and activities that get them out and about. Even better if it’s in a group where they can socialise and make new friendships and connections. Past time activities that provide a challenge or relaxation keep the mind occupied and improve cognitive performance. A healthy diet is also important. Not only does it help with wanting to do age appropriate exercise, but it can provide energy boosts without needing caffeine. Alertness and a good diet can give confidence to go out and find new hobbies as well as keep the person feeling happy in their physical appearance.

 

Depression is a real and serious illness that can impact every aspect of someone’s life. If someone elderly you know is struggling with depression and you’re unsure how to help, you can always contact Age UK for free and confidential advice.