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Senior Care - Is It Grief Or Depression? Seniors Coping With Change

by Amy, August 06, 2017

senior care

As in-home caregivers serving families in Menlo Park and throughout the Bay Area, we know there are many changes that come along with aging. While many look forward to retirement and their "golden" years, some things about those years aren't so golden - such as the loss of friends, loved ones, or even a partner.

Depression is a very common condition among those who are age 65 or older, and it impacts about 7 million Americans in this age group. Sometimes, though, it isn't depression at all - it's simply grief or sadness, something that isn't treated with antidepressant medication.

Seniors have a lot of awesome things occur in their lives - the birth of a grandbaby, traveling during retirement, not having to go to work every day. But there are just as many, if not more stressful, aspects about life. The loss of a spouse, feeling disconnected from family and friends, health issues, memory issues, loss of strength and stamina to do those things you once loved. This is normal in the aging process, unfortunately. You may believe your elderly loved one is suffering from depression, but it may be simple sadness and grief that come with the many losses we face as we age.

Coping skills in those who avoid depression

While seniors are more prone to sadness or depression, it's often how they cope that makes the difference in avoiding true depression. Someone who is sad or grieving will keep putting one foot in front of the other, making time for a social life, sleeping well, simply living life day-to-day and trying to make the best of it. However, those who become truly depressed tend to isolate themselves from family and friends and have a difficult time coping with normal life. They may self-medicate with drugs or alcohol, sleep all the time (or hardly at all), eat too much, and even feel completely hopeless. Each day becomes another challenge to exist, rather than living life.

When an elderly person loses a spouse or loved one, it's often extremely sad. People heal naturally over time when they experience grief, however some believe that therapy can be very helpful and in some cases anti-anxiety medications are also helpful for a short period of time. If it's true depression your aging parent or loved one is suffering, the combination of medication and therapy is often effective. It's important to have a doctor monitor how medication is impacting the patient, as some antidepressants can actually worsen symptoms.

If you suspect a senior in your life is sad or leaning toward depression, try to get him or her out of the house. Whether it's going out to dinner and a movie, sitting at the park and watching the sunset or kids playing, shopping, or taking a walk - it's often helpful to get out. If getting out and about seems to help, great. If the aging person resists and doesn't want to go anywhere, it could indicate it's time for professional help.

Care Indeed provides a wide array of home care services to seniors and their families around the San Francisco Bay Area including San Jose, Palo Alto, and surrounding cities. For all of your senior care needs, trust the compassionate folks at Care Indeed.