My mom is in her late sixties and seems to be feeling down lately. My dad passed away last year and she went to grief counseling and I thought she was doing okay, until recently. She seems tired all the time and is not interested in doing anything. She recently saw her doctor and her physical health is good. The doctor suggested she may be slightly depressed. What can I do to help while not invading her space and making her defensive?
I realize how challenging it can be to help without making your mom feel like you’re intruding. Below is some information on depression and some suggestions that may help. This may take some time at the beginning but keep trying as the benefits will be worth it. If these suggestions don’t work for your mom, please consider talking with her and her doctor about possible medications that may also help or whether counseling would be beneficial.
Depression and the Elderly
Clinical depression in the elderly is common; however, depression is not a normal part of aging. Depression affects about six million Americans over the age of 65 and only 10% of those affected receive treatment. The likely reason for the low number being treated is the fact that older people can display symptoms of depression differently than their younger counterparts.
•Difficulty concentrating, making decisions and remembering details
•Irritability and restlessness, anxiousness, sadness and/or emptiness
•Insomnia or excessive sleeping
•Overeating or loss of appetite
•Persistent aches and pains, headaches, or digestive issues that don’t lessen with treatment
•Loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyable
•Fatigue and decreased energy
•Feelings of hopelessness, guilt, worthlessness and/or helplessness
How you can help:
-Find new things for them to enjoy
-Encourage them to stay active physically, mentally & socially (invite them to walk with you, go out for a meal, attend an event, etc.)
-Encourage them to volunteer at a local non-profit (Schools, Adult Day Center, Childcare Center, Library, Hospital, Church, etc.)
-Get them to join an exercise club or gym, try a new sport (swimming, golfing, tennis, bowling, etc.), become a member of the local Senior Center, join a book club, take classes at the Community College
-Consider getting a pet for companionship
If you have topics you’d like more information on or questions you’d like answered, please email me: DearGrace@pibarre.org or write me: Dear Grace, c/o Project Independence, 81 N. Main Street – Suite 1, Barre, VT 05641-4283