Combatting Depression in Aging
Depression affects people of all ages, but it is not a natural part of aging. It is normal for seniors to feel periods of sadness or grief over changes to their health or a friend’s passing, but this shouldn’t be a persistent feeling that negatively impacts their quality of life. Depression is a treatable medical condition.
One of the most recognizable signs of depression is prolonged feelings of sadness or hopelessness, but there are a multitude of other symptoms seniors may experience as well. Some people may not even realize these are related to depression:
- Loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed
- Changes in sleep habits – insomnia or increased tiredness
- Changes in appetite
- Aches or pains not related to another medical condition
- Trouble concentrating
Older adults should talk to their doctor about changes in their overall well-being or things that seem out of the ordinary for them. Being open and honest can help seniors to get the help they need to feel better and make the most of each day.
Taking Steps to Prevent Depression
There are ways that seniors can be proactive about their mental health and improving their quality of life. Loneliness and isolation are two major factors that can contribute to depression, especially for seniors aging in place. Here are a few ideas for building connections and boosting mood:
- Pursue hobbies. Explore different activities and groups, whether independently or through a community group. Joining a book club, taking an art class, playing golf, or learning to play piano can be mentally stimulating. Seniors can use their free time for hobbies they find enjoyable, or to learn something new.
- Get involved in the community. Volunteering is a wonderful way to socialize and stay connected while making a difference. Spending a few hours helping in the library, working at an animal shelter, tutoring children, organizing a special event, or greeting guests at a local hospital or business can be very rewarding. It allows seniors to stay involved in things that are important to them and meet new people.
- Stay active. Exercise is essential for mental health. Physical activity releases endorphins that boost mood, and staying active can help release stress and tension. Regular exercise can also improve mobility, balance, flexibility, and coordination which can enhance overall health and happiness.
- Spend time with family and friends. Schedule regular calls or visits with loved ones. Video chatting can be a great way to see those who are too far to meet up with in person. Have lunch with a friend once a week and try a new restaurant or recipe. Maintaining connections can reduce feelings of loneliness or isolation and build a strong sense of community.
- Find a sense of purpose. Seniors should strive to find something that makes them happy and motivates them to get up each day. Whether that is caring for a pet, spending time with grandchildren, traveling, or knitting blankets for people in need, it is something that is meaningful to them and gives them a sense of purpose.
Life has a lot of ups and downs, but there are ways to weather these changes and maintain a positive quality of life. Depression is not a condition that seniors have to handle on their own. Partnering with a non-medical in-home caregiver in Herndon VA can be a wonderful source of companionship for seniors, help them stay involved in activities they enjoy, assist with tasks around the home, and much more. Learn more by calling to schedule a care consultation with Always Best Care.