Depression is a serious health issue, but many aging adults try to hide that they’re experiencing this problem. If you suspect that your elderly family member is battling depression, talk with her about what you’re seeing. It’s possible that she’s more willing to talk about what’s happening when you approach her in a loving and open way.
Offer Emotional Support and Listen
Sometimes just being there is the best thing that you can do for someone who is experiencing depression. If your elderly family member is willing to talk, listening is a huge help. You don’t have to solve your senior’s problems. Just knowing that you aren’t there to judge or to make her feel even worse can be enough.
Try to Understand What She’s Experiencing
One of the things you might try is just to understand what your senior is experiencing. You don’t have to completely get every detail but knowing the gist of what’s contributing to her situation can help her to feel you’re there for her. Offering her reassurance can be enough in that moment. Even if you’ve never experienced exactly what your senior is going through, you can still offer her comfort.
Help Her to Stick to a Routine
Routines help to ensure that your elderly family member is hitting all of her basic needs. When people are depressed, their routines tend to fall apart, mainly because it takes effort and energy to stick to those routines. By helping your elderly family member to develop routines again, that gives her a support system to lean into.
Offer Her Hands-on Assistance with Practical Concerns
Depression can also steal your senior’s ability to take care of practical tasks, like doing the laundry or making it to routine appointments. If you’re able to help her with these things, that’s a great way to reconnect and to show your support. But if you can’t be there for her like that, there are other options. Hiring senior care providers to offer her practical help allows her to have that support system in person that she truly needs.
If your elderly family member hasn’t already talked with her doctor about the depression that she’s experiencing, it’s important that she does so. There can be underlying causes for depression, including medication side effects, new health issues, and so much more. Her doctor can help her to get to the bottom of what she’s experiencing.