Due to advancement of the healthcare system there have been growing numbers of senior or elderly people in our population. However as aging brings along with it many mental and physiological changes in a person, elderly people are seen to suffer from various health concerns. Today in this article we have talked all about the depression and loneliness in elderly people. Graph of depression has been rising since the last two decades and the senior population is one of the large parts of it. So it’s high time that we all should be knowing about the causes of depression and feeling of loneliness in them and what we can do for them.
Aging is an inevitable phenomenon which starts with birth and goes on throughout the life cycle of a person. Old age represents the closing period of the life when one looks back on life, cherishes the memories he created and gives the break to his work life. The individual tries to adjust and cope with the changes that come along with this old age. At this time they need love and support from their family and close ones but if they do not get it, loneliness can invade them resulting in depression. In old age we experience more stress and sadness due to various reasons like going for retirement, leaving work life which brings lots of spare time with it. On the other hand all of their family members are young in age and have their own work life and personal life which keep them busy and they do not give required time to these elderly people at home. It can make them feel anxious, uneasy and unhappy which contributes to depression. Elderly people are more prone to social isolation and loneliness which can seriously affect their health.
Social isolation is common in old age due to various reasons like getting weak and old do not allow them to go out very commonly, family members no longer have enough time for them, workplace is also left, or any illness and disability can make them fixed to their place. Due to any of these reasons, it is very easy for old age people to be left feeling lonely which eventually turns out to be depression resulting in declining of their health further. Also elderly people have too much pride which stops them from asking help in case of loneliness or depression. In short, at one age, they experience many losses and loss is always painful. This loss can be of health, mobility, long time career, independence or some loved ones. However it is normal to grieve over a loss if it is for a certain period of time, it can be long also. But it is necessary to distinguish between grieving and depression because usually people cannot differentiate them and leave one saying they are just sad.
Let’s learn how to differentiate between sadness and depression.
- Sadness or grief includes a variety of emotions which include both sad and happy. Yes even if someone is grieving over something there will be moments of happiness and pleasure. However if a person is depressed he/she continuously has the feeling of despair and emptiness.
- Grieving fades with time and people come back to normal stage gradually, but if there are no signs of happiness, laughter, joy or positive response then beware it can be depression.
Other than this there are certain signs and symptoms which are specific to depression and if you notice them in anyone, probably one is suffering from depression.
- Unexplained pains and aches in the body or the existing one aggravates
- Constant feeling of sadness or despair
- Lack of energy and motivation in life
- Seems no interest in things which used to be hobbies or favorite
- Insignificant socializing
- Settled in helplessness or hopelessness feeling
- Unexplained loss of appetite or weight
- Suicidal thoughts
- Speech and movement is slowed down than usual
- Difficulty in concentration and memory troubles
- Indulgence in drugs or alcohol or increased usage
- Disturbances in sleep like insomnia, difficulty in falling asleep, or feeling sleepy in daytime
- Self loathing, feeling self worthless, or feeling of being a burden on others
- Personal care and hygiene is neglected
- Forgetting to take medicines or meals
Loneliness and depression go side by side. However depression in seniors can be different from that in young adults as sadness can be sometimes missing from it. In some cases of depression in elderly, it is seen that sadness is missing. They confirm not being sad at all but instead there are feelings of complete lack of motivation and energy or physical ailments. Old people suffering from arthritis or headaches get these complaints aggravated during depression.
However, there is always a hope and chance to correct things. If you are an elderly and reading this article, we will be here telling you some of the ways that can help you in getting rid of your feeling of depression and loneliness. Besides taking medicines it will be better if you also go for a few tips to get that spark back in your life.
- Try learning a new skill, make some changes in your lifestyle or try new activities. It is a myth that you cannot do something new in your old age. Learning new things and including new activities in your life can help you overcome the feeling of sadness, loneliness and depression
- Do not stay locked in the room or home the whole day. Go out, sit in some public park, have a tea or lunch with friend, visit your hairdresser, or go for a game or concert
- Do something voluntarily like helping people for the kind of work you used to do for example if you were in a bank helping people in filling forms or filing their applications for official work. It will occupy your time as well as you will feel better by helping others
- Get yourself a pet. Yes! Why not? Get a pet for yourself as animals are the best of friends to humans. Taking care of them, taking them for a walk, and playing with them not only indulge you mentally but it is a good exercise for you as well. Also this is a good way to meet new people and have interactions with them as two people having pet have a good chit chat session
- You can also try joining some library or book club if you like to read as there you can meet many like-minded people. You can also join other activities group which you like personally like yoga or senior center
- Laughter is always the best medicine for anything. It boosts the mood and develops a good mood between your near ones. Try watching comedy shows and movies or read comic stories or jokes to your friends or loved ones
Anyone can feel lonely and suffer depression but the senior population is at higher risk due to the huge gap which comes into their life because of absence of work, physical indulgence in society or even friends. If you are an elderly yourself then these tips can help you a lot in overcoming these situations or if you have an old aged person in your surroundings help them by suggesting these things to them. Love and care can correct anything and everything!