Depression in the elderly is a common occurrence, but it's not something that's inevitable. While late-life depression affects nearly 6 million people, only 10 percent of those receive treatment. If you want to make sure that your relative is among that 10 percent, it's important to realize the symptoms and causes of depression so you can find ways to get your loved one the help he or she needs. Here are five ways you can help your relative gain a more positive outlook on life.
1. Alleviate health problems. Seniors often get depressed as they notice their body aging or experience the pain of a disorder or impairment. Make sure that your loved one gets medical treatment when necessary and takes medication to help the symptoms.
2. Prevent loneliness. Your relative might be feeling sad because of lost friends, spouses or even beloved pets. While grief is normal, depression isn't. Consider finding new ways for your loved one to be social, and try not to leave him or her alone very much.
3. Keep him or her active. Many elderly people get depressed because they feel like they have no purpose anymore. If you help your loved one find ways to be useful or pick up a hobby that makes him or her happy, you can show your relative that there are still plenty of things to be done in life.
4. Help your loved one conquer his or her fears. Often, seniors get depressed because they're afraid of what's going to happen to them or anxious about their health issues or financial situation. Talk with your relative about what's making him or her feel depressed, then see if there are any ways that you can help reduce these fears or anxieties.
5. Don't let your loved one turn to alcohol. Believe it or not, 17 percent of elderly people have alcohol or drug abuse problems. While it might be tempting for your relative to turn to a drink or two to feel a bit better, the issues can escalate in the long run. Get your loved one help if you think he or she needs it to quit drinking.
Of course, a medical alarm system from Bay Alarm might also be a good idea. With a medical alert device, you can be confident that no matter what happens, your relative will always have a simple way to call for help if he or she needs it.