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Home Health Care: Help For Elderly Loved Ones Suffering From Depression

Often times, elderly loved ones face difficult changes in life that can attribute to depression. These changes can be the death of a loved one, spouse, or close friend, change of living space, or health and medical problems. This is especially true for elderly individuals who lack support from relatives, family or friends. Home health care may play a part in the recovery process. Depression isn't a normal part of aging, and in most cases seniors are satisfied and happy despite challenges that come with old age. When left untreated, depression can interfere with the lives of elderly loved ones and prevent them from enjoying life, and can take a toll on their health and well-being. This article discusses the signs of depression and suggests ways home health care can ensure loved ones stay happy, vibrant, and well cared for.

What is Senior Depression?

According to the National Institute of Health, approximately 2 million Americans, age 65 and older suffer from depression, and another 5 million suffer from similar but less severe or only periodic feelings. Despite depression being a relatively common problem, very few elderly individuals get the help or treatment they need. People wrongly assume that feeling down is just part of aging, and in many cases elderly individuals spend most of their time alone so few are around to notice their depression or distress, and seniors are often reluctant to discuss feelings or get help. Doctors typically focus on physical ailments for older patients, ignoring other problems.

When left untreated, seniors are at higher risk for illness, prescription drug abuse, alcohol abuse, and even suicide.

The factors that attribute to senior and elderly depression include:

  1. Feelings of loneliness: This can come from living alone, no longer being able to drive, close friends or family members dying, a recent relocation, isolation, or loss of mobility.
  2. Medications also cause feelings of depression, or can exacerbate feelings.
  3. Disabilities, illnesses, pain, or other health problems are associated with depression.
  4. Anxiety over health, finances, household, and family.

Recognizing the Symptoms of Senior Depression:

  • Difficulty sleeping (falling asleep, staying asleep), or sleeping too much, especially during the day.
  • Constant fatigue.
  • Weight loss and loss of appetite.
  • Ignoring hobbies, losing interest in activities and previously enjoyed pastimes.
  • Withdrawing socially, isolating his/herself from friends, family, and other individuals, unwilling to leave home.
  • Memory problems.
  • Irritable behavior.
  • Neglect of personal care and hygiene (including forgetting medications, self care, and other similar activities).

Doctors are often unable to diagnose depression, as elderly patients often suffer from complex and in some instances, more then one medical condition that can complicate a diagnosis. Home health care nurses are often uniquely positioned to help identify symptoms of depression and know how best to reduce patient suffering by everyday care. Home health care providers can both observe and treat elderly patients in their home environment, offer unique treatment for senior depression.

How Can Home Health Care Providers Treat Senior Depression?

Home Health Care is available for seniors who wish to live in their own apartment or private housing and enjoy the freedom to do as they wish, while receiving the care necessary to allow them to continue enjoying their normal lifestyle. Home health care and assisted living programs provide much welcomed companionship and help seniors remain safe and active. In addition, home health care providers plan and prepare healthy meals, assist with shopping, errands, and everyday activities such as taking medication and personal hygiene. If your loved one is experiencing depression or anxiety over his or her household or health, home health care can be of assistance and provide peace of mind. Learn more about how home health care can make a difference for seniors suffering from depression.

Caregivers, if the stress of caring for your depressed loved one or parent is conflicting with your own personal life, work schedule, or family life, consider learning more about available home health care services to ensure the best quality of life for both you and your loved one.

Bio: Erica Ronchetti is a freelance writer for Visiting Angels, the nation's leading, network of non-medical, private duty home care agencies providing senior care, elder care, personal care, respite care and companion care to help the elderly and adults continue to live in their homes across America. Visit the Visiting Angels website to find out more information on home health care.

Each Visiting Angels agency is a franchise that is independently owned and operated. The Franchisor, Living Assistance Services Inc., does not control or manage the day to day business operations of any Visiting Angels franchised agency.