As the COVID-19 pandemic has led us all to stay at home for long stretches of time, it also has caused a growing number of people, including seniors, to feel depressed due to isolation.
Seniors are already more prone to depression due to certain life factors, such as waning independence, decreasing physical abilities, and chronic pain. This is one reason why keeping seniors socially engaged is so important. However, this has been a real challenge during this year’s pandemic.
Here are a few facts and figures about seniors and depression:
- Two million of the 34 million people over age 65 have some form of depression, according to Mental Health America.
- Common chronic illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, and cancer, can trigger depression.
- Health care costs are 50% higher for seniors struggling with depression compared with those who are not.
- More than any other age group, seniors are more likely to want to handle depression on their own, Mental Health America reports.
If you suspect a senior loved one you care for is suffering from depression with the ongoing pandemic and the isolation it’s caused—or you want to help protect them from depression risk—here are a few steps:
- Know the symptoms of depression. They include a loss of interest in activities that once were enjoyable, feeling sad, having trouble sleeping, or being grumpy.
- Talk to a doctor or mental health professional. Depression in seniors can be linked to other illnesses. It also could be a side effect of medication. A health professional who wants to take the time to tease out what’s causing depression is crucial.
- Contact Friendship Hotline at 800-971-0016. Offered by the Institute on Aging, this is a 24-hour toll-free crisis phone number geared toward those age 60 or older and adults living with disabilities. Its trained volunteers also can make ongoing outreach calls to lonely older adults. Phone calls with the hotline can help provide emotional support and actively monitor for elder abuse or other emotional concerns.
- Watch for signs of suicide risk and reach out for help when needed. Signs of suicide risk include feeling hopeless, threatening to kill oneself, unbearable pain (find more warning signs on the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s web page). The National Suicide Prevention’s Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255 (TALK).
- Look for newer ways to keep seniors engaged. While face-to-face, large-scale events may not be available as widely right now, there are online ways to help connect seniors with each other or with their friends and family. Do a drive-by greeting, teach them how to use Zoom, or send letters or care packages.
- Encourage your senior loved one to keep up healthy habits. Regular exercise and a healthy diet can go a long way toward warding off illnesses, including depression.
- Resurrect your loved one’s interest in a favorite hobby, if it can be done while social distancing. This is a great way to occupy the mind and stay busy.
Call Secure Aging to Find Out How We Can Help Seniors With Care Management
At Secure Aging in Bradenton, we transform the weight of the world into a sigh of relief for our senior clients and their concerned family members. The mission of Secure Aging is to protect and preserve our client’s independence and dignity through careful and thoughtful financial and care management. As our clients’ age, it is their desire to remain independent and age with dignity. Our services protect our clients from talented con artists looking to exploit and deplete the financial resources of our vulnerable seniors. Secure Aging helps families in Manatee County and Sarasota County and in and around the communities of Anna Maria, Bradenton, Bradenton Beach, Ellenton, Holmes Beach, Lakewood Ranch, Longboat Key, Myakka City, Palmetto, Parrish, and Sarasota. Call us at 941-761-9338, or visit us online at www.secureaging.com.