When Grandma Has the Blues: Seniors and Depression

Has Grandma been showing unexplained signs of sadness? Does she have trouble sleeping or is experiencing a loss of appetite? These could be signs that Grandma’s suffering from depression.

Depression is prevalent in seniors and it should not be overlooked. There are many causes of depression – Alert1 will help you determine what the cause might be, and how to respond. 

Grandma Feels Alone

sad grandma

Grandma will experience many wonderful events as she gets older. Unfortunately, feeling alone is something she may experience too. This loneliness can be the driving force of severe depression in seniors. Feelings of loneliness in seniors are the result of many reasons:

You don’t live with Grandma. Now, you have your own children and home. Grandma lives far away. She doesn’t get to see you often.

Her spouse passed away.The loss of a loved one or companion is always difficult. Maybe Grandpa was by her side for many years and now he’s gone. This has left a hole in her heart and in her life. She’s doing her best day-by-day, but misses her best friend.

She’s accustomed to her lifestyle. When Grandma feels lonely, she's more likely to isolate herself. Studies show that seniors who continuously feel lonely will get used to being alone. As a result, they perpetuate a lifestyle that keeps them isolated.

Grandma Has Health Issues


Did you know that depression is a common side effect of many medications and medical conditions? As Grandma ages, she may develop health issues. Her doctor might prescribe her several medications to treat these health concerns, which can affect Grandma’s mood.

Grandma has medical conditions.Medical conditions such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, heart disease, cancer, and vitamin deficiency can increase the risk of depression in seniors. These medical conditions will occasionally cause damage to the brain which can lead to depression. Typically, the severity of medical conditions correlates to the severity of depressive symptoms.

Grandma’s medications affect her mood. Common medications that list depression as a potential side effect are: painkillers, sleeping medications, Parkinson’s and dementia medications, heart condition medications, and ulcer medications.

Seniors who take more than one medication at a time are at a higher risk for depression. For this reason, it's important to immediately consult a doctor immediatelyif depression symptoms occur. A doctor can suggest alternative medications or treatments that will minimize the risk of depression.

Grandma Doesn’t Want to be a Burden

senior home

Getting older is difficult for Grandma because she may not be able to do as many things on her own, like going to the grocery store. She might have trouble dressing, eating, or remembering things. She doesn’t want to admit it, but Grandma needs more help now than ever before. She doesn’t want to be a burden on you or the rest of the family. This makes Grandma feel depressed.

Grandma hates feeling dependent.Any type of loss is painful and the loss of independence is no exception. Losing more of her independence each day is frustrating for Grandma. All the things she used to be able to do easily now takes her twice as long. She feels bothersome when she asks for your help. Feeling more reliant on others makes her question her self-worth.Without reassurance, these feelings of helplessness can develop into depression.

She doesn’t want to ask for help.One of the biggest contributors to senior depression is a reluctance to ask for help. Grandma knows she feels depressed, but refuses to reach out or will try to downplay her feelings. She may not want to bother you or maybe she’s concerned that you may relocate her into assisted care. Therefore, she decides not to mention anything at all. As a result, depression is left untreated among many seniors like Grandma.

How You Can Help Grandma

kissing grandma

Now that you know what’s causing Grandma’s sadness, you can help her.

Address her depression.    Acknowledging Grandma’s feelings is the first step to getting her the help she needs. Some common symptoms of depression are:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Abuse of medication
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Inexplicable feelings of sadness

She may be hesitant to admit she’s depressed. Ask her how she’s doing. Remember to be specific—ask her about her friends, her hobbies, her likes and dislikes. Try to find out what’s bugging her. You may be able to nip the problem in the bud once you find out.

Spend time with Grandma.If notice she’s been feeling down, spend more time with Grandma. Engage her in one of her favorite activities. Be supportive and empathetic. Talk to her about her feelings and let her know you’re there for her. Having an open line of communication is essential to helping depression, so spend time with her often. Keeping her company is a simple step that can make a big difference.

Be her support system.Grandma might need professional help if her depression is severe. Offer to help her find a counselor. Support her by involving yourself in her medical care. Take her to her doctor. If possible, join her in her appointments. If not, wait for her in the waiting room. It’s always comforting to be surrounded by family. 

Keep a Smile on Grandma’s Face

If you detect the signs of depression in Grandma, address them immediately. With support from her family, treating Grandma’s depression doesn’t have to be hard. Be the one to keep that smile on her face.