When Grandma Has the Blues: Seniors and Depression
Posted on October 06, 2016
in Senior Safety & Independence
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 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
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 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 immediately if
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
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
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.
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