The Elderly in Depression During COVID-19
During this pandemic there has been a mass amount of research with the concerns of mental health with many reports showing an increase in psychological distress as people feel worried about contracting the new virus, suffer loneliness as they’re social distancing , worry about their financial condition, and lose sleep over the well-being of those they love.
It goes without saying that the elderly have experienced the greatest impact from social distancing. Many of their traditional social interactions and mental stimulations are now off limits. They miss their grandkids, they feel the loss of simple pleasures such as a leisurely trip to the supermarket. Social isolation has left a big hole in their routines, something that can lead to serious depression.
Underlying Health Conditions of Depression
The underlying brain changes that cause depression are more common as we age, so risk factors can include poor health, inactivity, chronic pain, sensory loss, loneliness and isolation, side effects of medication and stressful life changes such as the loss of a spouse.
If depression persists for more than a few weeks, it raises the risk of other serious health problems. If left unacknowledged depression can cause other health issues such as diabetes, stroke, hypertension, sleep disorders and infection.
Common Signs of Depression in the Elderly
Some of the most common signs of depression in the elderly include;
- Persistent sadness, feelings of hopelessness.
- A sense of worthlessness.
- Loss of interest in things they once enjoyed.
- Irritability, anxiety, restlessness.
- Fatigue, slow movements, loss of energy.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- A change in appetite.
- Substance abuse—drinking too much, smoking more, using dangerous drugs
Should you notice any of the above symptoms, then it is important you don’t ignore the problem. Although the elderly are more likely to experience depression, they are less likely to report it to a doctor.
How Home Care Can Help
If you are wanting to help a loved one through this difficult period and deal with symptoms of depression, the first step is to get diagnosed by a doctor. Your doctor might recommend antidepressant medications, psychotherapy and/or beneficial lifestyle changes.
However following a healthcare provider’s instruction can be difficult for the elderly who are suffering with mobility issues or other health problems more so now as the pandemic has amplified the challenges. While taking precautions throughout COVID-19, professional in home caregivers provide mood support in several ways:
- Assistance with managing healthcare – Caregivers can help clients keep track of doctor appointments and counselling sessions and can provide transportation and assistance as needed, or help clients set up health visits. They also can pick up prescriptions and provide everyday health reminders.
- Personal care – Caregivers can help clients with bathing, dressing and incontinence care, they can also help do laundry.
- Help around the house – By following COVID-19 precautions caregivers can give their clients homes a good clean and keep them in order. A caregiver can also go food shopping and prepare delicious meals for their clients. A person suffering from depression may not feel like cooking or eating resulting in a poor diet which can worsen symptoms of depression.
- Support physical activity – Exercise is a key factor in depression busting. Yet seniors who are living with mobility, sensory or memory challenges may hesitate to exercise. Following advice caregivers can accompany a client on walks or supervise a home exercise program.
- Helping preserve independence – The inability to do things we once enjoyed and not being able to do them can cause our spirits to drop. It is important for carers to help clients do the things they’ve always enjoyed, or to find new activities that provide a mood boost.