Depression in Older People
Even though depression is talked about now more than ever, people are still hesitant to open up and express their need for support. Especially in our ageing community, there is confusion about feelings of depression which can be put down to “old age” and may even come with a resignation to accepting this condition as the norm.
However there is no evidence that ageing brings on depression and anxiety and reasons for depression in older people can often be defined.
The rates of depression across our community are not precise but it is believed to be around 10-15% for Australians aged 65+ and increasing to 35% for people living in aged care facilities.
These statistics certainly put a good case forward for providing home support in aged care and supporting people to stay at home for as long as possible if not for the rest of their lives.
At any age, at any stage of life, there is always a reason to live your life to its fullest capacity and sometimes it just means altering our way of thinking.
A Community with healthy elders is a healthy community with high self esteem.
At Home Nursing Solutions, our care approach is based upon our philosophy that you live life until you die, no matter what your age or physical condition is. The elderly in our community contribute knowledge, experience, leadership and stability to the community that surrounds them. They also want to share this knowledge and experience of life with those who have a moment to listen and benefit from these experiences.
A community without its elders in good mental and emotional health is not complete. The foundations and history of every family and community stems from those who came before us so it is in our best interests as a community to provide the best care we can for the elderly and ensure they are living fulfilled lives right till the end.
Why does depression happen?
There are many reasons depression can occur and it is not an elusive issue as often believed. If you go back in history, you will be able to determine where it started.
Depression is fear of the past and anxiety is fear of the future. Either state means we are not in our present moment and instead we are either lurking in a past and difficult memory, or a worrisome future that has not happened yet.
The following are common reasons why depression occurs in the elderly and can develop further if not dealt with.
- Physical health problems that hinder normal activity
- Past traumatic experiences that have not been resolved
- Family history of depression modelling non-constructive ways of problem solving that result in feelings of helplessness and powerlessness
- Lack of loving and supportive relationships leading to social isolation
- Lack of good nutrition and exercise affecting brain and body health and wellbeing
Treatments for depression in aged care.
Whatever your age, depression can be treated and a better way of life can evolve for you. The first step is a willingness to get better and to allow yourself to be supported to grow, even if you’re past 80!
Reach out to your community. Get involved with charities and groups. Your wisdom and life experience is needed out there, so is your patience and support. Speak with your home care worker or your GP about how you can get involved in local groups.
Start a new hobby. It is never too late to learn something new. The WEA have many courses all year round. Your local community centre will have art classes, cooking classes, book clubs and other things of interest to you.
Family and friends. Sometimes it can make you feel vulnerable to discuss your depressed feelings, however if you do it without burdening the other person and expecting them to save you, then it is more likely they will come to your aid. Avoid relationships that are not supportive and take more than they give, when you are in a vulnerable state, this taxes you unnecessarily.
Exercise daily. A brisk walk in the park reduces the stress hormone Cortisol and boosts creative problem solving by 50%. It also has a physiological calming effect by reducing your heart rate. A twenty minute walk every day has helped many people avoid depression.
Improve your diet. Last week we wrote an article on the 7 Foods that Reduce Dementia. This applies to staying mentally fit and well. It is best to avoid alcohol during depression or at least have a much smaller amount as alcohol is a depressive substance.
Do what you enjoy. Activities like gardening, painting, building, drawing. Do what brings you pleasure and do more of it.
Get some help from a therapist. Seeing a psychologist, counsellor or a natural therapy practitioner who specialises in the treatment of depression can be very helpful. You can either look online or see your GP who can refer you to someone.
Get a good night’s sleep. Depression can cause sleeplessness and this exacerbates the problem further. Create a night time routine that starts an hour before you go to bed – make it whatever you want it to be, for example a nice hot shower, cup of tea and two chapters of a good book. Begin to “train” your body to quieten down and relax for the coming night. There are meditation CD’s and Apps that you can buy that have specific sleep programs. Here are some you can try:
Smiling Mind. Headspace. Calm. Stop Breathe Think. https://www.stopbreathethink.com/
Life starts at 60. Depression and anxiety shouldn’t – Beyond Blue.
Beyond Blue cover this topic well and you can find case studies of real people who have worked through depression and anxiety in their older years.
There is always something new to learn, something new to discover no matter what your age. Don’t allow your older age to stop you from living your life fully just because somewhere along the way you picked up a belief that life is almost over. Depression may take some time to heal, but you have the rest of your life to live so you may as well get started now.
At Home Nursing Solutions, where we need to we discuss depression openly with our clients as a potential condition and we support them to find a way of life that enhances their desire to live with wellbeing. Where required we will also suggest seeing a professional therapist.
Talk to us at Home Nursing Solutions about our aged care services. We will support you to live the best life you can no matter your age or condition.
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