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How to Address Depression in an Aging Parent

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Depression is a frequently misunderstood disorder. While many people associate it with vague feelings of sadness, it’s a genuine mood disorder. People experiencing depression, regardless of age, need treatment to manage and alleviate their symptoms. If you suspect your senior loved one is battling depression, here’s what you can do to help.

Know the Signs of Depression

Depression is common, but it’s not a natural component of the aging process. In fact, many older adults are content with their lives. If your loved one seems unhappy for an extended period, he or she may be exhibiting signs of depression. Before you take action, research the signs of depression so you know what to look for. Common symptoms include irritability, constant fatigue, and confusion. Depression can manifest differently in older adults than in younger people. It also shares symptoms with other health ailments common to the elderly, like Alzheimer’s and other types dementia.

If your elderly loved one is living with Alzheimer’s and needs help managing the symptoms, turn to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of Alzheimer’s care. Omaha seniors can rely on our revolutionary Cognitive Therapeutics Method (CTM), an activities-based program that promotes cognitive health and delays the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. CTM also encourages seniors to engage with others in an enjoyable way and helps them build new routines to look forward to.

Alleviate Stress

For seniors with long-term depression, professional treatment is necessary. By making a few healthy lifestyle changes, your loved one may be able to alleviate some of the symptoms. One of the main risk factors for depression is high stress levels. If your loved one has been feeling anxious lately due to financial worries, the loss of a loved one, or another reason, help him or her manage the source of the stress. You can also help your parent find an effective outlet for anxiety, such as performing calming exercises or meditating.

Focus on Boosting Cardiovascular Health

In some cases, seniors have battled depression throughout their lives. For others, their late-life bout of depression is their first experience with the disorder. The brain and body alter with age, and these physiological changes can lead to depression. This phenomenon is often referred to as “vascular depression,” as it’s often caused by restricted blood flow to the brain. Vascular depression is often experienced by seniors with poor heart health, which puts them at higher risk for diabetes, heart attacks, and other cardiovascular events. If your loved one’s depression occurs alongside a downturn in cardiovascular health, make sure he or she sees a doctor. You can also help your parent adopt habits that boost cardiovascular wellbeing and enhance overall quality of life, ranging from eating healthy to exercising regularly. 

Maintaining a high quality of life can be challenging for some seniors, but professional caregivers can help them obtain this goal. Families can trust Omaha elder care experts to help their elderly loved ones focus on lifestyle choices that increase the chances of living a longer and healthier life.

Seek Treatment

Because depression can be difficult to diagnose, it’s important to get your loved one professional treatment. Whether the depression is caused by an imbalance of brain chemicals or inadequate vascular health, it can be treated. If you think your loved one is experiencing depression, book an appointment with his or her doctor. Professional healthcare providers offer several options, including medication and psychotherapy. Antidepressant medications help the brain normalize production of mood-boosting chemicals, and therapy can alter the patterns of thought and behavior that contribute to depression.

Caring for an aging adult with depression can be challenging. If you’re the primary caregiver for a senior loved one in Omaha, respite care is available when you need time away from your important caregiving duties. At Home Care Assistance, our respite caregivers are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help your loved one manage everyday tasks in the comfort of home while you have the chance to take a much-needed break. Call one of our friendly Care Managers today at (402) 249-0204 to schedule a free in-home consultation.