How to Help an Aging Parent with Depression

How to Help an Aging Parent with Depression

Seniors deal with a lot of changes in their health, relationships, and lifestyle. It’s no wonder that many of them become vulnerable to depression. It can be hard to watch your parent suffer with isolation and loneliness, but there are many steps you can take to help.

Physical Needs

Depression is about the body as much as it is about the mind, with both physical causes and symptoms. That’s why it’s important to address an aging parent’s physical needs first when they are showing signs of depression.

  • Sleep: Is your parent keeping to a regular schedule of sleeping and waking? If they are having trouble sleeping, consider helping them with their sleep hygiene, which may include limiting daytime naps, incorporating relaxing activities into the evening routine, and minimizing screen time. If needed, see a doctor about safe and effective sleep medication.
  • Exercise: Regular exercise promotes better sleep as well as better mood. Help your parent find an exercise program that is both manageable and enjoyable.
  • Diet: Whole foods rich in nutrients, fiber, and protein sustain a healthy balance to the body and mind, while processed foods high in sugar, refined carbs, and artificial ingredients offer nothing more than empty calories that drain energy. Guide your parent to eat a variety of nutritious foods that they enjoy.
  • Medication: If your parent is already prescribed medication for depression, they may be taking the wrong dose or missing their meds altogether. Consider managing their medication in order to ensure they are receiving the best treatment for their needs.

Emotional Needs 

Seniors often become depressed when they feel they lack a sense of purpose. For much of their lives, they’ve set goals and accomplished tasks; now, they have “slowed down” and don’t know how to structure their days. You can help your parent regain a sense of purpose by introducing them to a new hobby, providing them with a plant or pet to care for, or enlisting their help with some of your family’s needs. Help them draw up a schedule of daily activities so they can see how much they accomplish.

Also, remember the power of a simple hug, kind word, or note for communicating affection. Nurturing this bond, especially if your parent has lost their spouse or close friends, can provide a sense of emotional safety. 

Social Needs

Is your parent depressed because they feel isolated, or are they isolated because they feel depressed? Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between depression symptoms and causes, but adding social opportunities is a must. Help your parent build a routine of classes, lunch dates with friends or family, or visits to the library to add structure and interpersonal experiences to their daily lives. Even if they don’t feel like embarking on these activities at first, getting them in the habit will start to change their outlook.  

Communities like Danbury offer built-in opportunities for fun social interactions throughout the day, every day. Whether your parent enjoys exercise, crafts, games, or the arts, they will be sure to find a way to connect in a safe, loving, and joyful atmosphere.

Professional Help

If you aren’t sure whether your parent has depression, or if their depression seems to be getting worse, seek professional help. The doctor may recommend medication, therapy (including talk therapy, pet therapy, or art therapy), or a combination of approaches. Often, just taking that first step to get help can begin to turn depression around.

Are you wondering if a move to an independent-living facility would bring more joy to your parent’s life? Check out Danbury’s resort-style living by scheduling a tour at one of our locations across Ohio.

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