7 Ways to Help Your Senior Overcome the Winter Blues

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Depression in older adults is an unrecognized epidemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that up to 20% of American adults over 65 have depression.

No big deal, right? Everyone gets a little down sometimes.

Depression in the elderly may cause:

  • Obesity
  • Anorexia
  • Insomnia
  • Memory loss
  • Slow reaction times
  • Suicide

So it’s important to diagnose and treat depression as soon as possible.

How do you know if your older loved one is depressed? Symptoms include:

  • feelings of sadness or emptiness
  • lack of interest
  • significant decrease or increase in appetite
  • insomnia or hypersomnia
  • psycho-motor agitation or slow down (purposeless behaviors such as wringing hands, tapping fingers, pacing, etc.)
  • fatigue or loss of energy
  • feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt
  • diminished ability to concentrate or make decisions
  • recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
  • aches and pains
  • headaches
  • abdominal cramps
  • digestive issues

The Geriatric Depression Scale has a list of 15 items to help with diagnosis.

If you notice your parent has several of these symptoms, it’s time to see a doctor. The doctor will perform a physical examination, as well as take blood to check for medical conditions that may be causing the symptoms.

If a physical condition is not causing the symptoms, the doctor may prescribe antidepressant medications. However, along with the medications, it’s critically important that your parent receive support. This is why we created the following list!

7 Ways to Help Your Loved One with Winter Blues

  1. A change of diet may help mentally and physically. Certain supplements also have proven effective, although you should always contact your parent’s doctor first. Along with watching your parent’s diet, you should watch for overconsumption of alcohol, which may be an issue with depression.
  2. Touch is important. We communicate so much with a touch. Research has shown that touch helps with depression, anxiety, and dementia.
  3. Socialization is critical. If you can’t spend more time with your parent, try to get a sibling to help. Assisted Living communities have special programs and staff to encourage socialization. Local senior centers frequently have day care programs.
  4. Help them get out in the world. Invite them for lunch. Schedule a hairdresser’s appointment.
  5. Encourage them to move. Make that winter walk in the sunshine a habit. Exercise is a potent antidepressant.
  6. Recognize that depression is an illness, just as much as cancer is. You can’t jolly your parent out of it. That just doesn’t work. It will take all your understanding and patience to help your parent recover, but your parent can recover.
  7. Ask your doctor to test your parent’s Vitamin D levels. Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with depression, but no one is sure whether it’s a cause or a symptom. Nevertheless, given the symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency—obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disease, osteoporosis and cancer—it’s a good idea to make sure your parent gets some exercise outside on a sunny day to build up their levels.

 

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    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

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    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

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    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

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    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

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    Has your aging parent recently lost interest in activities they used to enjoy? Have you noticed a change in their mood and behavior?

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    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

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    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

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    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

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    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


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    This guide provides tips and ideas on downsizing, what to pack and how to make the transition smooth for your senior parent.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

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    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

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    Have you stopped getting together with friends, either because you don’t have the time or you’re too exhausted? Are you becoming the invisible second patient?


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

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    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

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    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

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    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

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    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

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    The list details what important questions to ask during your visit so you are able to make an enlightened choice and find the best assisted living community for your needs.


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