What You Can Do When Our Older Adults Are Depressed

Statistics Are To High

There are some extremely alarming statistics showing the rise of depression in the elderly. A shocking 90% of seniors are not getting the care they need. Depression affects more than 6.5 million Americans in the United States, and 35 million of them are 65 years or older. It is a misconception that once you hit retirement age you are happy to finally not be working. This is not always true for everyone.

Oftentimes it is completely the opposite. It is an uncertain adjustment many seniors are not ready to make. They suddenly have an enormous amount of time on their hands. Depression in the elderly is not the norm, and should be taken with genuine seriousness.

As our parents get older there are many new challenges they must face. They need to apopt a new lifestyle. Adapting to this new lifestyle may be a hardship for our parents. That is why it is important to be educated about the signs a depressed parent, and what steps you can take to help them combat depression if it exists.

Some of the changes they may face can include loss of their well deserved income, letting go of friendships in the workplace, the beginnings of memory loss, and all the physical changes to their bodies they never expected.


Signs Your Parent Might Be Depressed

Sadness and hopelessness
Thoughts of suicide
Physical ailments
→ Crying and sadness
→ Mood and emotional outbursts
→ Inability to sleep
→ No energy
→ Changes in weight
→ Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
→ Loneliness


Depression is a very treatable illness. The option most often found to be helpful, is a combination of anti-depressants and visiting a therapist. Talking to a therapist can be a great comfort in relieving depressive symptoms.

Having family is essential to well-being
Having family is essential to well-being

Diagnosis, Treatment and Ways To Feel Better

A family doctor or a psychiatrist can usually diagnosis depression in our parents depending on many factors. Looking closely at the signs and symptoms of depression, how long they have been depressed, lifestyle changes and genetics, all of which, can play a major role in a depressive parent.

Most often an antidepressant is prescribed. The doctor may also encourage exercise and other recreational activities to stay active. Research suggests psychotherapy alone may relieve depressive symptoms if your parent does not want to take medications. This option is one many older adults like.

Recreational Activities For Your Parent

Staying active by doing the things they enjoy for fun and relaxation enrichs their lives for the better. Getting involved with our parents by sharing activities with them can help boost their moods for the better. Loneliness is very high on the list for depression in older adults. Some things you can do to add enjoyment to the older adult in your life. They may not always show it, but they will be glad you participated in their day.

Take a walk in the mall or visit a museum. Go where there are other people.

→ For housebound parents, Get books on DVD for them to listen too. Check your library for the latest or favorite titles. Dig up a favorite author and grab a stack.

→ Join Netflix. It is a good way to watch their favorite shows, and movies. Pick titles you can enjoy together. A good way for your older adult to keep current on shows and movies.

→ The internet is full of fun things to do. Games, e-mail, internet surfing. Give your parent some computer skills, if they haven't already found them on their own. A computer is an excellent gift for an older adult.

→ Have weekly pot luck with family and friends. Invite a neighbor. This helps our parent make new friends, while remaining social.

→ Join a senior center. They offer meals, games, and other activities. This can be done daily or even just once a week if possible. A great way to get out and about.

→ Find hobbies, Help your parent find new hobbies. This might include: writing, photography, bird watching, sewing, woodworking, reading, painting and a number of other hobbies.

→ Join a class at the local college, or school. Many classes are offered free of charge or at a lower cost for older adults.

It is important we our parents, aunts, uncles, any older relatives you know, stay in touch with friends and family. If you live a distance from your parent, write letters, call them regularly, get some face-time with them, and visit as often as you can. Being around family and friends encourages wellness, and helps them be more positive.

Encouraging our parents to exercise, and stay active as much as possible. Even if it means walking up and down the hall, or just kicking your arms and legs. Encourage movement. This alone is one step toward combating depression. It will make our older adults feel alive and wanted.

Out and about, playing with the hats is one of her favorite activities.
Out and about, playing with the hats is one of her favorite activities. | Source
Love is the drug
Love is the drug | Source

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Comments 6 comments

crazybeanrider profile image

crazybeanrider 5 years ago from Washington MI Author

Thank you fastfreta for your kind comments. I think the computer is an excellent hobby for any parent. I know for mine, once they figured it out they enjoy using it a great deal. Thank you :)


fastfreta profile image

fastfreta 5 years ago from Southern California

Crazybeanrider, this is a very interesting, and I might add, important article, because this is widespread. I like the suggestions you gave about how to keep our elderly parent occupied. I've tried some of these on my mother, and believe me they do work. However, I see a few more that I will try,(especially the computer one), thanks for the research, and sharing it with us. Voted up/useful/awesome!


crazybeanrider profile image

crazybeanrider 5 years ago from Washington MI Author

Thank you all for the terrific comments. Yes depression in the elderly is greatly misunderstood. It makes me sad to see the older people around me so depressed. I often think many people believe older folks should be happy when in fact they have good reason to embrace depression. Thank you for reading and I appreciate your kind comments.


fucsia profile image

fucsia 5 years ago

Thanks for this interesting argument. Often the depression in elderly people is undervalued or confused with a natural mood due to age. It is very important to recognize the symptoms and help those who are in difficult.


Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

Depression is a serious issue amongst the elderly. Great Hub!


cathylynn99 profile image

cathylynn99 5 years ago from northeastern US

practical. thanks, cbr.

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