This is the time of year when it seems like everyone is full of cheer- but truth be told, not everyone you see is feeling joyful. In fact, depression is actually quite common during the holidays- especially among the elderly.
Sadly, the elderly population ranks 2nd in the nation for the highest suicide rate.*
During this holiday season, if you notice things that make you concerned about a loved one, there are a few signs to look for if you fear they may be suffering from depression:
- Mental exhaustion
- Loss of interest in normal activities
- Recurrent thoughts of death
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of energy
- Socially withdrawn
- Lack of personal hygiene
If you notice that they exhibit more than one of these signs, it is suggested you seek professional help.
Some of the risk factors for suicide and depression include**:
- Alcohol or substance abuse
- Current use of a medication associated with a high risk of depression
- Hearing or vision impairment severe enough to affect function
- History of attempted suicide
- History of psychiatric hospitalization
- Medical diagnosis or diagnoses associated with a high risk of depression
- New admission or change in environment
- New stressful losses, including loss of autonomy, loss of privacy, loss of functional status, loss of body part, or loss of family member or friend
- Personal or family history of depression or mood disorder
If you are concerned about a loved one, it is important that you talk to them and get them to their primary care doctor for PH2Q evaluation.
The good news is that depression can be treated in a variety of ways. Including Psychotherapy, Pharmacotherapy, and in some cases ECT (Electroconvulsive Therapy).
For those who have minor depression- helping them find purpose and meaning in their life can often be beneficial. Brookdale Communities offer an Optimum Life program that focuses on all aspects of one’s life, including physical, emotional, social and intellectual stimulation.
Eating a healthy diet can also help increase mood. Encourage your loved one to eat foods that are rich in Omega 3 fats and get plenty of vitamin D. Often seniors who live alone rely on frozen foods to get by, hiring a Capability Caregiver to prepare healthy, nutritious meals can make a huge difference. Even just having a companion to eat meals with can help alleviate loneliness.
If you are worried about your loved one, have faith, patience and seek help. With the proper care- depression can be treated and you can turn ho hum into ho, ho, ho!