The Mood & Mind Centre
|Posted on 15 August, 2022 at 3:45|
Written by Nejla Regis (August 2022)
Geriatric depression or depression in older adults occurs more commonly than we think, and it does not discriminate based on gender or ethnicity. However, a crucial point to note is the prevalence of geriatric depression is higher among those with physical or cognitive impairment, such as reduced mobility and dementia. Other factors include retirement, loss of a loved one, and economic instability. So how can we help a population group that is the bedrock of Australian society and have contributed so much to our community?
Here are a few things you can do to help your aging loved ones:
1. Help them to build a social support structure around them: this can be as simple as a regular chat over a cuppa, frequent phone calls to check in, and researching/organising social activities for those that are capable and willing to participate. Social activities with their peers may include but are not limited to, arts and crafts, book clubs, group walking/games. Having a “social convoy” reduces loneliness by facilitating chances to participate in new or much-loved activities along with those transitioning through similar life experiences (Antonucci et al., 2014).
2. Having an open and honest conversation about housing arrangements and speaking about the benefits of living in residential communities (when your loved one is unable to look after themselves). While it may sound daunting, in most cases these facilities are purpose built to support those with reduced mobility, by giving them a feeling of autonomy, while preserving their privacy, and having the added benefit of social interaction.
If you notice any severe changes in physical or mental health of your loved one, be sure to seek the help of a healthcare professional such as their GP. Their GP can help them find the care they need, even by referring them to a psychologist to assess risk factors and tailor a treatment plan just for them. These plans have been proven to alleviate symptoms of depression using evidence-based techniques such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
On a final note, don’t forget that if they maximise the positives and minimise the losses, your loved one will shift to a healthier mindset.