Depression is frighteningly common for aging adults and it can be dangerous. Depression interferes with your elderly family member’s ability to take proper care of herself, which can lead to a variety of other issues.
She’s Less Likely to Eat Healthily.
It’s difficult to eat healthy meals regularly if someone is depressed. If that depression is related to health issues as well, that need for regular, nutritious meals is even more important. Make eating as easy as you can for your family member. Having elderly care providers cook for her can be an easy answer that also helps her to experience companionship and get help with other tasks.
She May not Be Sleeping Well.
Depression can rob your elderly family member of the energy she needs to do what she wants, but it can also keep her from being able to sleep well. This can feel pretty awful to your senior, because she’s not getting the sleep that she needs but she may want to stay in bed. Getting a little more active can help her to sleep, but it’s best to do so carefully.
She Can Lose Muscle Strength.
When your senior isn’t eating well and she’s not sleeping well, she’s likely also not very active in general. She can start to lose muscle tone and strength, which can create other problems. She can be at a greater risk of falling because of this, too. If your senior has started to lose some muscle tone, it might be a good idea to install grab bars and make assistive devices, like a cane, accessible for her. Elderly care providers can also help to steady her and ensure she’s safer at home.
She Might Lose Bone Density.
Part of being less active brings a side effect that you might not think about. Weight-bearing exercise, such as just walking around during normal daily activities, can help to keep bones stronger. When your elderly family member is less active, she may start to actually lose a bit of bone density. This is even more likely if she’s already at risk for developing osteoporosis.
She Could Be Isolating Even More.
Depression can often start with your elderly family member withdrawing gradually from friends and family. As the depression worsens, your senior can feel more isolated and withdraw even more. This just makes everything worse. Having companionship more often, from elder care providers or from friends and family, can help to counteract what’s going on.
If you suspect that your elderly family member might be experiencing depression, encourage her to talk to her doctor about it. In many cases, there are underlying physical causes for depression and it’s best to address those as quickly as possible. Finding a solution might be easier than you suspect.