How Can I Help my Aging Parent with Depression

Depression is often a difficult topic for people and families to deal with. Recognizing the signs, searching for services, simply dealing with the day to day affects of it can be challenging. When you see someone struggling with depression, in particularly an aging parent, the first question that comes to mind is, “How can I help my aging parent?”

Contrary to what some people think, depression is not a normal part of the aging process. In fact, it is:
• Less diagnosable MDD than midlife, but more overall depressive symptoms – Sub-syndromal
• More common in women, but narrower gap than younger years
• Often co-occurs with other medical conditions
• Under diagnosed and under treated

While depression is not a normal part of the life process, the fact is, many are living with this condition and don’t know what to do. People are watching the ones they love suffer with depression, and sadly, have no idea how to help. So what is the answer?

First, it’s important to pay attention and recognize the symptoms of depression. According to statistics, older adults suffering from depression range from 5% to 13.5%, including home healthcare and hospital patients. Several factors (genetic, biological and environmental) play a role fueling the symptoms of depression. What are the symptoms?
• Depressed or sad mood
• Loss of interest or pleasure
• Loss of appetite and/weight or overeating and/or weight gain
• Fatigue or loss of energy
• Difficulty sleeping and over sleeping
• Difficulty concentrating, making decisions or remembering
• Irritability, restlessness or lethargy
• Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
• Frequent thoughts of death, suicidal ideation, or a suicide attempt

How can you help?
Becoming knowledgeable of the symptoms and signs of depressions is one of the first ways an individual can help if they think their aging parent is suffering from depression. Seeking out treatment or resources for their loved one is another way to help those dealing with this issue. A number of treatment methods currently exist for those dealing with depression.
• Antidepressants
• Psychotherapy – including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)
• Mindfulness
• Electroconvulsant Therapy (ECT)

For more information about dealing with depression and an aging adult follow us on Facebook at Leslie Sessley, LCSW.

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