Info You Can use: Beating the Blues
of the brochure
Everyone suffers from a bout of the blues from time to time. Older people feel sad when a spouse or good friend dies, if they are in poor health, or retired recently. It's not uncommon to feel down or discouraged when you are caring for an older family member. Continuing feelings of emptiness, worthlessness or sadness may be signs of something more serious: depression. Depression is a serious illness. However it can be treated successfully.
SIGNS OF DEPRESSION
- Loss of interest in enjoyable activities
- Fatigue, lack of energy
- Sleep problems
- Poor appetite, weight loss
- Crying spells
- Memory problems. Depression is sometimes mistaken for Alzheimer's disease
How You can Help
Being around someone who is depressed can make you feel sad, even angry at times. It's important to understand that depression is an illness, not a sign of weakness. Making life as pleasant as possible can help your loved one feel better. Simple activities you both enjoy give structure to the day. Even a few minutes of pleasure lighten a sad mood.
- Listening to music
- Washing dishes
- Taking a short walk
- Playing with pets or children
- Looking at the moon, sunrise or sunset
- Going for a drive
Depression is one of the leading causes of suicide in older people — especially older men. If an older person talks about suicide, call a doctor or suicide prevention hotline immediately. Many older adults do not talk about suicide.
Signs that an older person may be thinking about suicide include:
- Recent loss, especially of a spouse
- Sadness, apathy, fatigue
- Giving away favorite possessions
- Low self-esteem
Symptoms of depression can also be signs of physical or other mental illnesses. Schedule a doctor's visit for your relative if you think he or she may be depressed. Most depressed older people can be treated successfully with medication, psychotherapy or a combination of treatments. Medications improve physical symptoms of depression â€” sleeplessness, poor appetite, fatigue â€” and help your relative feel better.
It may take two to six weeks or longer
for the medicines to work. Make sure
he or she continues to take the pills
and checks in with the doctor