As our parents age, we want to treasure them for as long as we can, so we look for ways to help them stay healthy and active. But many older people suffer from depression, a condition that is not always easy to battle.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, depression affects more than 6.5 million of the 35 million Americans aged 65 or older. Some have experienced episodes of depression throughout their life, while others may experience the first onset later in life, even well into their 80s and 90s.
What Causes Depression in Older People?
As mentioned, preexisting depression often leads to episodes later in life, particularly if the person has never been officially diagnosed or treated. Individuals with a history of anxiety often become more fearful as they age as well. As a result, they often isolate themselves, rarely participating in social activities, which, in turn, leads to depression.
Some older people have difficulty reviewing their lives. They may not feel proud of the life they’ve led and may get stuck dwelling on the more negative aspects. Perhaps they feel they did not accomplish enough, or they harbor resentment toward an old friend.
And of course, older people have to not only deal with declining abilities but also the loss of loved ones. A unique reality of aging is that your friends start to die, one by one. It is not uncommon for older people to go to several funerals in a single year.
How You Can Help
The very best thing you can do for your parent who you think may be suffering from depression is to offer your love and support. Let them know that you are there for them and happy to help with whatever they may need.
Having said this, it is equally important that you respect their needs for independence. Don’t try to take control of their life and act as if you know what’s best.
Also, consider visiting a therapist who can help your parent work through any unresolved issues and offer management strategies. A professional mental health professional can assess your parent to see if they are a good candidate for medication. Sometimes medication can help, other times, it can impair cognitive function. A therapist will know the right approach to take.
If you or someone you know has been watching their aging parent become more and more depressed, please get in touch with us. Let’s discuss treatment options and see how we may be able to help.
Dating is challenging for everyone. But when you suffer with depression, dating can feel scary and overwhelming. Not only do you feel particularly raw and vulnerable to possible rejection, but should a connection be made, you have the added burden of figuring out how...
Have you been feeling a bit low lately, but you can’t quite put your finger on why? It may have something to do with your social media habits. According to a recent study, social media use can increase depression and loneliness. For years people have suspected that...
“God, you can be so stupid sometimes.” “Why would he be attracted to YOU?” “You’re just going to screw this up.” These are things you would probably never say to another human being unless you’re a real jerk. But how many of us have that inner critic that says these...
Quick! Get Your "Top Tips For Getting the Most Out of Counseling" Cheatsheet!
Like some of what you've seen and want to see more? Sign up for our Mailing List for a free cheat sheet on making the most out of counseling. Our list members also gain access to exclusive specials and announcements, as well as the latest from our Counseling Blog!