Across our country, senior adults are facing unprecedented levels of depression. The root causes of this problem can vary but often include social isolation, health problems, and grief from the loss of loved ones.
The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated this problem, as many seniors have been forced to stay isolated at home. In fact, the CDC reports that up to 13% of senior adults report feelings or thoughts related to depression.
Is It Depression?
Knowing how to help those struggling with depression can be difficult.
One of the first steps is determining whether a loved one is actually struggling with depression. The signs and symptoms of depression vary from person to person, but some common indicators include:
- Persistent feelings of sadness or emptiness
- Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
- Fatigue and decreased energy
- Trouble concentrating, making decisions, or remembering things
- Insomnia or hypersomnia
- Appetite changes resulting in weight gain or loss
- Thoughts of suicide or self-harm
These symptoms can come and go, but consistent changes in behavior or mood warrant a conversation with a trusted professional
Seniors deserve to enjoy and thrive during every season of life, and there are plenty of ways to ensure that they do. In this article, we will outline six tips to help senior adults fight off depression and find happiness once again.
1. Stay Socially Active
People need people! Even the most introverted among us will admit that we need community every once in a while.
One of the best ways to ward off depression is to stay socially active. This could mean attending group gatherings at a local senior center, church or simply maintaining close relationships with a few close friends.
In order to stay social, seniors don’t need to become extroverts; they just need to do something that gets them out of the house and interacting with other humans. This can range from scheduled events with others to taking walks outdoors.
Studies show that individuals who have a consistent social life are less likely to experience depression.
2. Keep a Positive Outlook
Positivity breeds happiness! It’s been said that we can choose our own attitude, which is especially true when combating depression.
When we’re positive, it shows in our interactions with others and can even have a ripple effect on those around us. Conversely, when we’re negative and downtrodden, it often makes others feel uncomfortable and can lead to more isolation.
It’s important for seniors to make a conscious effort to keep a positive outlook on life, even when things get tough. This can be done by maintaining a gratitude journal, focusing on the good in each day, and looking for the silver lining in every cloud.
3. Maintain a Healthy Diet
What we eat has a profound effect on our moods and overall happiness. A healthy diet is key for seniors who are looking to fight off depression.
Depression is often characterized by feelings of fatigue, low energy, and poor concentration. So what’s in the fridge? Fresh, expired or bad food? How often does the pantry or fridge get restocked? Is the freezer full of TV dinners or the pantry full of soup or peanut butter?
It’s also essential to avoid processed foods and sugary snacks, as they can have the opposite effect.
When we eat unhealthy foods, our bodies release chemicals that make us feel happy in the short term but can actually lead to more long-term problems, like depression.
4. Exercise Regularly
Exercise is a well-known mood booster! Not only does it make us physically stronger and healthier, but it also has amazing benefits for our mental health.
Seniors who are looking to fight off depression should aim to exercise for at least 30 minutes each day. This doesn’t mean they need to become marathon runners; any type of physical activity is beneficial. Some good exercises for seniors include walking, stretching, yard work, ankle rotations, lifting objects 1 to 3 lbs. repetitively and swimming.
Regular exercise has been shown to be as effective as medication in treating depression.
5. Avoid Alcohol and Drugs
It’s no secret that alcohol and drugs can have a negative effect on our mental health. For seniors who are looking to fight off depression, it’s important to avoid these substances altogether.
Alcohol and drug abuse can lead to addiction, which is a major problem in the elderly population. Additionally, alcohol and drugs can worsen the symptoms of depression and make them harder to treat and may affect other medications that are taken.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, it’s important to get help right away. There are many resources available, and treatment can be very successful.
6. Seek Professional Help if Necessary
Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we just can’t seem to shake our depression. If this is the case for you or a loved one, it’s important to seek professional help.
There are many excellent resources available for seniors who are struggling with depression. Therapists, counselors, and psychiatrists can provide valuable support and guidance in overcoming depression.
Depression is a serious condition, but it can be treated successfully. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help if you need it. Be sure to check with your physician about exercise limitations, diet and the possibility of depression.
Learn How To Thrive With St. Francis Villa Assisted Living
One of the best ways to help senior adults struggling with depression is to engage them in an active and thriving community.
St. Francis Villa Assisted Living is the “facility of choice” in the metro New Orleans assisted living community that believes that where experience matters, “Peace of Mind” follows.
Compassionate and skilled professionals help residents with physical care and health-related needs while promoting independence and socialization.
From scheduled group outings, engaging on-site programming, and a host of amenities, St. Francis Villa provides the perfect environment for seniors to thrive – mind, body, and spirit.
To learn more about how you or your loved one can begin thriving at St. Francis Villa Assisted Living, please visit our website or give us a call today. We would be honored to welcome you into our community!