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Five Steps to Overcoming Holiday Senior Depression

Lake Pend Oreille in winter.JPG
In last month's first blog, the subtle differences between dementia and depression were highlighted. The holidays can be a difficult time for seniors who live alone or have distant family. And often times, it's challenging to determine whether the senior is simply nostalgic for the happy times of past holidays when they were with their families or whether depression has become a permanent part of the picture.

If your elderly loved one’s symptoms are more indicative of depression than dementia, the following five steps can help break the cycle and foster a healthier, happier life for them:

  • Talk to a professional, whether that's the elder's doctor or a mental health professional. Identifying depression and treating it appropriately is most often the key to breaking the downward spiral of depression and is a necessary first step.

  • Encourage follow-through with treatment. Depression usually reoccurs when treatment is stopped too soon. If the prescribed treatment isn’t helping, look into other medications and therapies, or even other professionals.

  • Get the elder outside whenever possible and try to keep them as active as they can tolerate safely. Depression is less likely when a person’s body and mind remain active. Suggest activities the person used to enjoy: walks, an art class, a trip to the museum or the movies—anything that provides mental or physical stimulation.

  • Schedule regular social activities even when the loved one is reluctant to get out to attend the event. Group outings, visits from friends and family members or trips to the local senior or community center can help combat isolation and loneliness. Be gently insistent if the suggested plans are refused: depressed people often feel better when they’re around others, but they may need some encouragement to get there.

  • Ensure all medications are taken as instructed. There are many types of medical reminder devices, including electronic devices that actually beep if medications are missed. Also, if alcohol is still a part of the elder's life, remind them to obey doctor's orders about the use of alcohol while on medication. Help the person remember when to take prescribed doses, or assist in getting a device in place that works.

Depression in the elderly can be tough to overcome. Often the secret is getting companionship for the loved one, especially during the holidays. That can come in the form of a caregiver if family members are unavailable during this critical time.

We at AAging Better In-Home Care train our caregivers in the importance of providing companionship along with other in-home services needed to keep seniors safe and effective at home. We are here to help your family and your loved ones every step of the way during the holiday season and beyond.

Serving all five North Idaho counties, we begin with a Plan of Care to outline your loved one’s individual needs, and then carefully match one of our compassionate caregivers to provide the services that have been identified during the complimentary assessment conducted by one of our nurses. We care for your loved one as if he or she were part of our own family.

Contact us online or call us any time at 866-464-2344 to learn more. If you can't be there for your loved one during this special time of year, we can be there for you!

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