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How Can Live-in Home Care Help With Senior Depression?
Senior depression is becoming increasingly common, although it’s often not well understood. Everyone feels a little bit sad from time to time, and this is perfectly normal, but depression in elderly people can have insidious health effects and so it needs to be diagnosed and treated as early as possible for the best outcome.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists estimate that 20% of older people suffer from senior depression. This number rises to 40% of those in care homes but unfortunately many remain undiagnosed and untreated.
The good news is, there is a 75% recovery rate if treated. However, as the demographic least likely to see a GP this can be difficult – therefore it’s important others be aware of the signs.
What is senior depression?
Depression, although common, is a serious mood disorder and requires forms of treatment. Clinically, depression is described in different ways. You may have heard it referred to as ‘depressive disorder’, ‘major depressive disorder’ and ‘clinical depression’. In general, these all refer to the same thing.
Depression is not a sign of weak character or a flaw, as unfortunately the older demographic may have been led to believe. It’s not something that people can ‘snap out of’.
Depression in the elderly is caused by a variety of factors. Some older people struggle with the loss of their physical abilities and feel that there’s nothing worth living for any longer.
Perhaps your loved one has experienced the death of their spouse and is struggling to cope alone, or close friends may have passed on or possibly moved away to be closer to their own families. An inability to drive, or loss of a partner who did all the driving in the past, or poor health, can all have an impact on an older person’s mental health.
For some older people, retirement can be a big disappointment, particularly if they face it alone. Downsizing to a smaller home can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness, as can a loss of social activities that accompanied a working life. Money worries and fears about the future can all play a part, leading to prolonged feelings of sadness and a lack of motivation.
Risk factors for depression
In addition to the factors mentioned above, there are some specific things which can contribute to a person developing depression – specifically as they age.
Chronic illness, or a recent hospital admission for major conditions can both contribute to depression – whether that be due to pain or side effects, such as a loss of mobility and interaction.
Social isolation, loneliness and bereavement are also some of the most common contributing factors to senior depression.
Other factors that may play a role:
- Cognitive conditions such as dementia
- Sleep problems
- Lack of physical activity
It’s important to be aware of these risk factors and if you think a loved one may be struggling, to seek help.
Signs of senior depression
You may notice that a loved one seems to have lost interest in their usual hobbies and pastimes. They may be becoming increasingly isolated and reluctant to meet up with friends and family. They may even neglect their personal hygiene, which could be a strong indicator that something isn’t right.
If you suspect that you loved one is suffering from depression, don’t assume that it will clear up on its own. You need to talk to them to discover what is making them feel depressed and ensure that they see a doctor if necessary, so that they can be given appropriate treatment.
Bear in mind that the older generation doesn’t always feel comfortable discussing emotions and feelings, so exercise restraint and don’t force them to open up if they don’t want to, but instead help them seek treatment from a professional.
Questions you can ask loved ones to gain a greater understanding of their feelings are:
- Have you often been bothered by feeling down, depressed or hopeless?
- Have you often been bothered by having little interest or pleasure in doing things?
These are the same types of questions medical professionals may ask your loved one to help them understand if they have a depressive disorder.
Due to the stigma that is unfortunately attached to depression, people may not seek assistance on their own – with men even less likely to ask for help. Encourage your loved one to talk to others, and remind them it’s ok to seek treatment.
Symptoms can be different in men
In men, the more common symptoms of depression are:
- Irritability and anger
- Loss of control
- Greater risk-taking behaviour
It’s also common for signs of depression to be assigned to other long term conditions – for example, a person living with dementia may have signs of depression that are thought to just be a progression of their symptoms.
It’s also important that carers and family members take care of their own mental health and are aware of the signs of depression, as they too become at risk.
Following a diagnosis
There are a range of different treatment options available for depression, with some people choosing to try medication and others taking a more psychological approach. The best approach for you or your loved one will depend on a number of factors – such as whether they can take medication or not.
Antidepressant medication is one treatment option, however may not be suitable in the elderly if they have other medical conditions or have other prescriptions.
Alternative therapies include:
- Cognitive behavioural therapy
- Grief support
- Social support
- Personalised care
Additionally, there are lifestyle changes which can help, such as:
- Reducing alcohol intake
- Eating well
- Community activities
How a live-in carer can help to alleviate depression
Live-in care at home offers a wonderful way of providing companion care for your loved one. Elderly care providers, such as Elder, have recognised that live-in carers offer a viable alternative to residential care, even providing advanced dementia care in the home, for example. But your loved one doesn’t need to be suffering from health problems to reap the benefits of in-home care.
Loneliness is one of the biggest problems facing older UK residents today. Some older people spend days at a time without exchanging so much as a single word with another person. The sense of isolation can be overwhelming, leading to loss of self-esteem and poor self-image.
Simply introducing a dedicated caregiver into the home can have a profound effect on alleviating depression, and raise your loved one’s interest in life back to normal levels again.
What does a live-in carer do?
A live-in caregiver can perform a host of tasks within your loved one’s home, but one of the principal advantages is providing companion care.
At any time of the day or night, your loved one knows that there’s someone reliable in the home that they can call upon to assist them, whether for a friendly chat and a cup of tea, or for assistance with household tasks, for example.
The carer will provide help wherever it is needed, from assistance with the housework, to feeding and walking pets, taking care of the laundry and preparing healthy and nutritious meals. They’ll take responsibility for arranging and facilitating medical appointments, store and dispense medications and arrange fun and interesting days out and activities.
Elder go to great lengths to ensure that both carer and care recipient are carefully matched, as shared interests and hobbies help to promote a strong and lasting friendship, which is beneficial to both parties. This means that your loved one and their carer will always have common ground to enable easy discussions and mutual trust and respect.
From day one, your loved one’s carer will ensure that your relative’s days are filled with entertainment, activities and engaging chats that promote a sense of wellbeing. They will make sure that your loved one doesn’t neglect their personal care, and will lend a compassionate ear for anything that your loved one wishes to discuss.
You should find that your loved one’s mental state improves dramatically with the presence of their caregiver in the home.
Simply having a friendly face and a helpful pair of hands around the home can make a huge difference to your loved one’s sense of wellbeing.
Call us for expert live-in care advice
Loneliness: How to Care for Ageing Parents
Loneliness can profoundly impact the health and state of mind of older people. Sometimes it can be due to the death of a spouse or a close friend, or it could be that they just don’t have enough of the meaningful social contact they need every day.
How Can Live-in Home Care Help With Mental Health?
Many of the day to day activities we take for granted can become difficult for older people with mental health problems. Coping with housework and general domestic duties may pose problems, so this is one area where companion care can help. In addition to supporting your loved one with practical tasks around the home, a live-in carer will help with meal planning and preparation so that they will receive a nourishing diet which promotes good mental health.
How Can Live-in Home Care Help With Loneliness?
Older people may have lost their spouse, and as their closest friends pass away or move to be nearer to their families, they can quickly experience the isolation of loneliness, particularly if they have any health problems that make it hard for them to get out and about. But even those in perfect health may find that loneliness has a profound impact on their day-to-day lives.