Category Archives: Elderly Depression

Health Tips For Seniors

Post contributed by Mary Christiansen. Mary works as a marketing associate for 1-800-CPAP,  the discount CPAP supplies specialists.

People are living longer now than they did during any other time in history. It is estimated that there will be over 69 million Americans over the age of 65 by the year 2030. This will represent over 20 percent of the total population. While many believe that the most pressing matter dealing with this generation is the impending decisions dealing with social security and Medicare, there is something even more important than this, and that is helping to keep this rising generation as healthy as possible as they age. Here are some health tips to keep in mind when trying to keep you or your aging loved ones both healthy and happy.

Stay Active Doing Something You Enjoy

Probably the most important thing you can do to stay physically healthy is to stay active. Pick activities that you enjoy and try to do at least one of them every single day. While many people might enjoy going on a walk with their significant other or a friend every day, it is not necessarily something that everyone will enjoy. It is also helpful to know that as joints start going bad or just hurt a lot during exercise, it is best to move to something with low impact. The most popular low impact exercises generally take place in the water such including such activities as swimming, walking or jogging the water, or even water aerobics.

Prevent Accidents

Unfortunately, as old age sets in, accidents tend to increase. There are many reasons why this happens, but the most important thing to do is to prevent any potential injuries around your home. Be sure there are no loose carpets or rugs that have up-turned corners. When there are wires or clutter on the ground, keep them out and away from walking paths. Keep hallways lit during the night for higher visibility and also be careful of wet floors, especially in the bathroom.

Stay Social

It can be hard to get out of the house and keep up with friends, but this is an important part of life. Friends help manage stress as well as assist in any changes or transitions that may come through life’s events. Finding humor or seeking comfort is something good friends can provide. Living alone can be tough on anyone mentally. It is helpful to have someone to get you out of the house.

Immunize and Screen

The people who are most vulnerable to sickness and disease are the elderly and the very young. This means you should be sure to keep up to date on immunizations and vaccines that are available. It is also advisable to get a wellness check once a year as well from a regular physician as well as dental, vision, and hearing check-ups. These visits help to catch any problems early on in their development which is when they are easiest to treat.

Manage Stress

Learn to handle the stress that is just part of life through any of the many proven techniques for stress release. For some people, this comes through doing yoga. For others, it comes from regular meditation. Others learn how to think positively and change the way they talk.

Prevent Cancer

In this day and age, the harm that comes from smoking is well known. Not only does it take a toll on your health, but your wallet as well. Improve your physical and monetary quality of life by quitting this habit. Also, as skin ages, it become thinner, drier, and loses elasticity. This all makes it much more vulnerable to the harmful UV rays of the sun, so be sure and protect yourself as much as possible with sunscreen and wearing long sleeves.

Eat Healthy

The other half of exercising is eating well. Make sure you are eating enough food to ensure that all nutritional needs are being met. Many problems occur as a person ages, but many of these problems can be alleviated or improved through diet and exercise, so be sure to pay attention to what you eat.  Avoid fat and sugar and always be sure to get enough calcium and milk. Another thing that is often overlooked is sodium intake because too much sodium increases blood pressure. As you age, the taste buds dull and cannot taste as well. This is why people commonly add salt to their food more as they age.

Maintain A Healthy Weight

When there is more weight to carry around, the harder your joints have to work as well as your organs. The most common problems deal with heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and sleep apnea. These can be controlled with medications and a CPAP machine, but if you can keep your weight under control, none of these things will be required.

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Why Socializing Helps Keep the Mind Sharp in Old Age

Advances in medical science are allowing people to live much longer than our ancestors. With this increased longevity people experience a decline in their physical function and perhaps even more devastatingly, loss of cognitive functions. Memory loss is becoming more common among the elderly. Naturally this is upsetting to both them and their loved ones. The good news is that studies are showing evidence that an active social life may help to slow the rate of memory deterioration. It may also help to prevent dementia.

Harvard Research on Memory Loss and Aging

A study that appeared in the July 2008 issue of American Journal of Public Health was completed by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). In the study researchers set out to test if memory loss was connected to social interaction. They gathered a sample of adults in the United States aged 50 and older and read them a list of common words. After a five minute delay they then asked them to recite back as many of those words as possible. They determined each subject’s social activity level by a number of factors:

  • Marital status
  • Contact with family members (parents, children and other relatives)
  • Contact with friends and neighbors
  • Volunteer activities

The study concluded that seniors with the lowest rate of cognitive decline had the highest amount of social interaction. Overall the study indicated that the rate of memory decline for the most social individuals was less than half the rate of those with the least amount of social opportunities. These findings were the same regardless of age, gender, race or health.

The Problem

Adjusting to retirement can be difficult after spending a lifetime on schooling and work. Some people suffer with boredom, depression and feelings of isolation. A person may turn inward if dealing with a chronic illness or other health problems. They may also experience anxiety about finances while learning to live on a fixed income.

There are many factors that impact the ability of the elderly to enjoy active and meaningful social lives.

  • They have few family members or friends.
  • Friends and family may be separated by long distances.
  • Elderly people of 80 years and older often find many friends and relatives have already passed away leaving them alone.
  • They may only have distant relatives that they may not know very well.
  • Health issues may impede their ability to leave the home.
  • Often elderly people are not able to drive and they are left with inadequate transportation.

Socialization is the Key

Approximately 10% of people 65 years and older are estimated to be suffering with dementia. Memory loss is a primary risk factor for the disease. Keeping the mind engaged helps to keep it active and healthy. Social interaction gives the brain a work out of sorts. Just like any exercise, the more work the brain does the fitter it becomes. It grows resilient and more resistant to decline.

Many retirees can find outlets for social interaction through volunteer opportunities, senior centers, clubs, church activities and even just getting more involved in their community. Classes are another way to reach out to make new friends and help to keep the mind active.

Relatives of older family members tend to be supportive in terms of cooking, cleaning or running errands. As helpful and well-intended as this is it doesn’t do much to help an elderly person stay mentally active. Regular visits, discussing other relatives and friends, playing games and going on outings are the best ways to maintain healthy social connections.

Senior care facilities offer excellent opportunities for social interaction for elderly people who don’t have in-home assistance. Most offer community dining rooms and activities such as game nights, crafts, dances, religious services and some even hold meetings regarding issues of the day.

Social Interaction is a Basic Human Need

The goal is to actively live life. Participate in activities and be a productive member of the community. Humans are social animals and our minds crave that interaction with other members of our species. When the social interaction is taken away or decreased the brain isn’t being used nearly as much. It is more than keeping the mind active with solitary games, puzzles or books. Social integration plays a very active role in cognitive health. Continuing to live as dynamic and connected a life as long as possible can help to keep the brain interested and engaged making the golden years more fulfilling and yes, memorable.

Resources:

Rosie writes regular articles like this one which is for Homes With Care, Homes With Care provide a unique and dedicated service that helps inform interested parties on the availability of assisted living facilities, retirement homes for sale and rent offering integrated close care, close care, extra care and independent living.

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ElderKind.com

Depression in Senior Citizens

It is not uncommon for senior citizens to become depressed, and there are distinct ways to tell when someone you know is struggling with this condition. Depression can be triggered by a number of things. It is important when first noticing the signs and symptoms to address the issue immediately. Choosing to ignore the signs of depression can result in conditions that are far more serious, and even life-threatening.

Possible Cause: Illness

An elderly person may become depressed as a result of being chronically ill. Consistently not feeling well physically can directly impact one’s mental state.

Possible Cause: Loneliness

Feeling lonely is a major contributor to depression in senior citizens. Having no one to talk to, being alone more often than not, and thinking that no one cares about them or wants to spend time with them are all effective in promoting a depressed and hopeless state of mind. Seniors facing loneliness start to believe that they are insignificant, unloved, and not worth anyone’s time.

Possible Cause: Boredom

Senior citizens who have lost interest in the world around them will likely become depressed. They are no longer stimulated or inspired by what life has to offer. Self-motivation and enthusiasm are no longer present, and the individual suffers from lack of purpose and a sense of uselessness.

Possible Cause: Fear

Elderly individuals who are close to death may be experiencing fear of the unknown. They are aware that their days are numbered, and they are worried and frightened about what, if anything, will happen to them after they die. This consistent fear of what is to come can easily lead to depression in these individuals.

Signs and Symptoms: A Change in Eating Habits

Many seniors make their depression apparent through loss of appetite. They hardly eat, insisting that they are simply not hungry or they don’t like the dish being served to them.

Signs and Symptoms: Preferring to be Alone

Antisocial behavior in seniors is a sign of depression. Depressed seniors will insist that they want to be alone, and not bothered by anyone or anything. They will avoid gatherings and keep to themselves. Their conversations are limited, and their involvement in outside activities is virtually nonexistent.

Signs and Symptoms: Being Unresponsive

Depressed senior citizens may spend a lot of time staring into space and focusing on their own thoughts.
They are unable, or unwilling, to offer an explanation for the sad look on their face or the tears in their eyes. When asked what is wrong, they have no clear answer.

Signs and Symptoms: Irritability

Crankiness, irritability, and a bitter attitude are common signs of depression in seniors. Unable to handle their own distressing feelings and thoughts, they lash out at undeserving victims who are only trying to help.

Ways to Help: Proper Health Care

A senior citizen who is dealing with an illness should be made as comfortable as possible at all times. Even the slightest of ailments and discomforts should be addressed and taken care of. It is crucial that medications and treatments be administered on schedule.

Ways to Help: Companionship

Even the most reluctant and unresponsive senior needs companionship. Someone talking to them, reading to them, or just spending time at their side is critical in preserving a healthy mental state. Senior citizens should be encouraged to interact with others, particularly those having similar interests and experiences.

Ways to Help: Finding and Rekindling Interests

All seniors have activities and areas of interest that they enjoyed taking part in when they were younger. It may be a hobby, a game that was fun, or a subject that they loved learning about. By the same token, everyone has something that they always wanted to learn or try their hand at, but never got the chance to for whatever reason. Relatives and caretakers should attempt to either rekindle the individual’s former interests, or assist him or her in developing new ones. It is never too late to expand one’s boundaries, and it is both mentally and physically beneficial to do so. Granted, senior citizens are not physically able to do all of the things they used to do when they were young, but this does not mean that they can’t do anything at all.

Ways to Help: Addressing Fear

Senior citizens who are afraid to die should not be left alone with their anxiety and apprehension. They need to be reassured and comforted that they have nothing to fear. This is where religious beliefs play a significant and necessary role. No one should be left feeling overwhelmed by anxiety and dread as they approach death. All seniors should face their dying days knowing that the best is yet to come.

Depression in seniors, if left untreated, can lead to more serious mental conditions, severe physical ailments, and even suicidal tendencies. A suicidal senior citizen may attempt to end his or her own life through self-inflicted bodily harm or starvation. It is unwise to ignore even the slightest indication that something is wrong. Depression is an infliction that should always be taken very seriously.

Editor’s Note:

Depression is a very serious condition that often goes undiagnosed and treated in the elderly. Many of the symptoms of someone slipping into depression are mistaken for a normal part of getting old.

Also, depression has non-environmental causes.  Brain damage, tumors and chemical imbalances can cause depression. Be aware that some prescription medicines can trigger depression.