Late-life depression affects approximately 6 million adults 65 and older in the United States, according to WebMD. That being said, it’s perfectly normal for seniors to feel down now and then. But long-term depression can contribute to a wide range of health problems, from insomnia and chronic pain to weight gain or loss. Below, you’ll find some ways to stave off depression in seniors that could come in handy if you happen to be caring for an older loved one.
Enhance Their Sleep Habits
The body’s sleep-wake cycle naturally changes with age. For some older adults, this adjustment contributes to sleep-related difficulties. If your loved one isn’t getting enough high-quality sleep on a regular basis, he or she may be more susceptible to depression. Seniors may be able to minimize this problem by:
• Avoiding daytime napping
• Engaging in activities throughout the day to naturally encourage a good night’s sleep
• Sleeping in a comfortable, quiet environment
• Sticking to a regular sleep schedule
Encourage Social Interaction
Over time, seniors sometimes lose some of their close friends or have fewer reasons to be socially active, which could contribute to loneliness and depression. On the flip slide, several studies suggest that active seniors tend to have fewer issues with depression and anxiety. If you notice your loved one isn’t as social as he or she once was, encourage him or her to:
• Participate in family gatherings or outings
• Attend community events
• Be involved with the local senior center
• Use social media to stay connected with friends and family
Socializing regularly can boost quality of life in the golden years. If your elderly loved one needs help maintaining a high quality of life while aging in place, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a trusted provider of Colorado Springs elder care. Our caregivers provide transportation to and from medical appointments and social events, nutritious meal preparation, assistance with daily exercise, and help with everyday tasks like bathing, grooming, and light housekeeping.
Help Them Eat Healthier
A tasty way to stave off depression in seniors is with healthy food choices. While there’s no standard “anti-depression diet,” certain foods can affect emotional and mental health in a positive way. Some of them include:
• Fish and other foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids
• Cashews, Brazil nuts, and hazelnuts
• Beans and seeds
• Green, leafy vegetables
• Yogurt and other foods with probiotics (“good bacteria”)
Keep Them Physically Active
According to a study published by the National Institutes of Health, exercise may reduce depression-related symptoms in older adults already diagnosed with a major depressive disorder. Activities like age-appropriate workouts, water-based forms of exercise, daily walking, stair-climbing, and controlled-movement forms of exercise like yoga and tai chi also promote the release of “feel-good” chemicals called endorphins that can affect mood.
Engaging in daily physical activity can make it easier for seniors to remain healthy and independent while aging in place. When considering homecare, families should make sure their senior loved ones have the resources they need to maintain their independence and remain healthy. Trusted in-home care professionals can assist seniors with daily tasks like cooking, bathing, and exercise, and they can also encourage them to focus on healthier lifestyle habits.
Help Them Find a Purpose
Depression sometimes develops because older adults have more free time and fewer things to keep them occupied or make them feel useful. Encourage your loved one to find new and productive ways to fill his or her time. Possibilities include:
• Exploring new hobbies or getting back into activities he or she once found enjoyable, like gardening, knitting, or woodworking
• Volunteering with a local charity or organization
• Taking classes for seniors so he or she can learn new skills or brush up on existing ones
• Participating in senior exercise classes
For many seniors, depression can impact the ability to continue living at home and enjoy a high quality of life. Aging in place can present a few unique challenges for older adults. Some only require part-time assistance with exercise or meal preparation, while others are living with serious illnesses and benefit more significantly from receiving live-in care. Colorado Springs, CO, Home Care Assistance are leaders in the elderly in-home care industry for good reason. We tailor our care plans based on each senior’s individual needs, our caregivers continue to receive updated training in senior care as new developments arise, and we also offer comprehensive care for seniors with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s. Call (719) 822-1229 today to speak with one of our friendly Care Managers.