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An ailing body is not the only challenge elderly people are faced with. Depression is also a problem that many senior citizens have to battle. Depression is a condition that not only worsens their physical condition but also affects their recovery from ailments. Moreover, in the current hectic world, the younger members of the family often miss out on tending to the subtle requirements of elderly members or patients with chronic illnesses due to responsibilities at home or work. This often results in feelings of neglect, lack of self-worth and mental disturbances amongst dependents. You may also like to read about 10 conditions that ail the elderly.
Compared to an average adult, an elderly person needs far more emotional support. Emotional support for the elderly should include specific action steps to deal with negative states of mind such as loneliness, helplessness, boredom and nervousness. Dr M Udaya Kumar Maiya, Medical Director,Portea Medical, shares 10 essential emotional needs of the elderly to help them cope with depression.
1. Security: Being more vulnerable than an average adult, most seniors live under constant anxiety regarding their safety. It is important that you provide a sense of safety for the elderly person both physically and mentally. This could include ensuring that the surrounding environment and home is a safe at all times.
2. Attention: Elderly, like young children need constant attention because of their inability to cope with the pace of the real world. Give lots of attention to your elderly because their happiness depends on their self-worth which comes with attention.
3. Autonomy & control: Even when you are giving maximum attention and assistance, most elders would still want some autonomy or control over their life. For tasks that they can do themselves, it is important to give freedom. Hence, let them do simple day-to-day chores which can give them control and make them happy.
4. Emotional connect: Some elderly individuals tend to break off all emotional connectedness with people in their immediate surroundings because of lack of self-worth. Caregivers should take initiatives to rekindle emotional connectedness and make the elderly feel wanted. Here are 10 ways to help yourself through depression.
5. Eliminating guilt: Seniors living with their children, especially financially dependent elders tend to have a feeling of guilt that they are intruding on the lives of their children. Similarly, children or relatives taking care of their elderly dependents sometimes feel guilty that they are not able to provide the sort of care that they would want to. If there are signs of such guilt, talk to each other and make the elderly understand such feelings are quite unnecessary and that you are with them as long as required.
6. Feeling of belonging: Elderly people who are active within a community tends to be happier and satisfied with their lives than others who aren t. The reason being, a community not only provides them with a sense of belonging and enjoyment but also helps them to meet and interact with like-minded people and share thoughts. Check if there are elderly communities in your local area and if so, sign-up your elderly-dependent in one such community.
7. Friendship and intimacy: Just like teenagers and young adults, elderly people also need friendship and affection to lead a fulfilling life. Always give your elderly-dependent a chance to make new friends by taking them to places where other people of their age-group socialise.
8. Privacy: Elders, having gone through adult life like normal people would still want some level of privacy in their lives. Respect their privacy and create an environment where they feel they have the privacy as required by a normal adult. It is because, in some cases, giving them a space of their own is all they need from you to deal with a situation before that can open up. Also read about 10 things depression makes you experience that no one talks about
9. Sense of competence: With age, sustaining the sense of competence that elderly people once had (when young) become difficult. However, it is important to instil the same feeling of compassion and competence at this age to help them be happy. This can be done by reminding about the life accomplishments and create a feeling of competence as compared to other people of similar age groups.
10. Purpose to life: Most often than not, an elderly person tends to lose faith and feel that there is no meaning to life. However, this is not true. Instead, a caregiver should look for signs of such feelings such as loneliness, depression etc. and make the elderly understand that there is always a purpose in life and that there are new, positive experiences on the horizon.
Dealing with depression
Home healthcare is a relatively new concept healthcare in India and aims to improve the life of patients including elderly individuals. When caring for a patient even in a home environment, it is essential that the depression that follows a chronic ailment or old age is taken into consideration and assessed carefully. Here are 8 modern-day signs of depression you ought to know.
Depression in most elderly often progresses undiagnosed leading to a spiral of thoughts that make the condition worse. Very few people with depression get the right treatment they need because of several reasons including lack of self-awareness, reluctance to talk due to fear of being isolated or simply lack support. While most physical health conditions are diagnosed and treated symptomatically, most often continual care and attention is all that is required to ease mental pain and to facilitate a better quality of life. The first step to managing depression is to identify it early.
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