A study published on Pubmed, a part of the National Library of Medicine shows that about fifty percent of nursing home patients have some form of depression. Those who require home health care average about eleven percent and in the community at large, nine percent. These statistics are something that all those involved in eldercare need to be aware of.
Dangers: Eighteen percent of all suicides are in the elderly population. This isn’t the only danger. Depression can cause serious health problems or make those problems worse. One of the worst is heart disease.
Coping: Two of the biggest causes of depression are related. These are grief and loneliness. This is particularly true for those in any sort of facility and to those who are shut-in; unable to leave their home.
Having visitors can help. So can getting them out and about where possible. There are ways that wheelchair bound seniors can get out and see something different. Our elder is in a facility that strives to make sure that those who can get out do so at least once a week.
Turn off the TV: One of the problems we have discovered with our elder is the television set. When she was at home it was on 24/7. Now that she is in a facility she doesn’t watch it as much and doesn’t get as upset by the shows she watches. It’s a great relief to the family because she would often call after seeing a program that upset her and cry.
Prevention: There are things that cause depression that we can’t stop. There are also things we can do to prevent some types of depression in the elderly. It’s important that they feel worthwhile. They may not be able to do everything they once did but there are still things they can do. One of our elders is wheelchair bound… but she still makes quilts and does other sewing projects.
As an elder becomes more and more housebound it’s good to find ways for them to participate in community life. Using an electric scooter or wheelchair may give them the ability to go out again. If transferring from a wheelchair to a car is a problem, ask the doctor about using a gait belt.
If the person can’t get out of bed or out of the house, planning events to take place where the elder is may be an answer. For some, that may be too much. It’s wise to check with the doctor about how much activity the elder can handle.
Elder care is not easy. There are a lot of things that can happen that we are unprepared for. Hopefully this article will help prevent the problems depression can cause.