Spotting Signs Of Depression In The Elderly

spotting signs of depression in the elderly

Seniors have a much higher risk of experiencing depression, primarily due to social isolation. The combination of mobility issues, inability to drive, or the loss of a spouse and close peers contribute to feelings of loneliness, isolation, and depression. In addition, medication side effects can compound the problem. 

Signs Of Depression And Social Isolation In Older Adults 

Proactively preventing senior depression by providing a solid social support system is a significant first step. However, depression can “creep up” on anyone. If you live far away from your parent or grandparent, it can be even more difficult to notice their depression or low moods because they can put on a brave face during video chats or phone calls. 

According to the National Insitute on Aging

Everyone needs social connections to survive and thrive. But as people age, they often find themselves spending more time alone. Studies show that loneliness and social isolation are associated with higher rates of depression 

9 Signs A Senior Is Depressed 

The following are some of the most common signs of depression. Check-in with senior loved ones regularly – using your eyes, ears, and heart – and take note if you register any of the following: 

A persistent worried, sad, or vacant mood 

Some seniors may openly voice how sad they are feeling. Or, they may begin sharing constant worries – a sign of anxiety. These are worth exploring to learn more about what type of support would be best. You may also notice a vacant, absent, or apathetic mood. Those are also signs of senior depression. 

Feeling helpless, hopeless, or worthless 

For many seniors, aging means relinquishing abilities, hobbies, and activities that make their lives rich and meaningful. In addition, the inability to walk independently, giving up the keys, incontinence issues or diminishing sight and hearing make it difficult to engage in the world around them. As a result, seniors retreat into themselves and begin to feel unwanted, unneeded, and unable to contribute to or participate in the world around them. 

If you notice any of these signs, read Senior Health & Wellbeing Depends on Social Interaction for tips on keeping seniors engaged in their communities. 

Restlessness, irritability, having trouble sitting still 

Does your senior loved one resemble the fidgety youngsters in your life? The core causes may be the same. Without a purpose, something to captivate their interest, and an energetic outlet, seniors get restless, and the lack of inspiration in their lives depresses their mood.  

An excellent place to start is to make sure they’re getting regular daily exercise in a way that fits their physical health and lifestyle. The following posts are good places to start. Once a physical routine is part of the mix, you can branch out to support a depressed senior in other ways. 

Lack of interest in activities, hobbies, or social engagements that used to be pleasurable 

Is your loved one starting to skip activities or engagements that used to bring him/her pleasure? No longer attending religious services or affiliated groups? Avoiding the bunco or men’s club meetings? Letting their beloved garden go limp or to die altogether?  

All are signs of depression. If not depression, it is a sign that something needs to be addressed – vision, transportation, new glasses or hearing aids, mobility support, etc. – so seniors can take part again. If the lack of engagement continues, depression is sure to follow. 

Decreased energy or general fatigue 

Depression affects both mood and energy levels. Unfortunately for depressed seniors, it’s easy for busy family members to assume their lack of energy or general fatigue is linked to aging or medication side effects. However, seniors who are eating well, getting regular exercise, and have regular social interaction are far less likely to experience chronic fatigue unless it is a symptom of a medical diagnosis. 

Difficulty concentrating, remembering things, or making decisions 

Sometimes, issues around memory, concentration, and decision-making are signs of dementia, so families may assume that’s the case or just laugh off “senior moments.” However, the same apathy, lack of interest in life, and decreased energy mentioned above can lead to cognitive glitches. 

Any signs of memory loss should be noted and attended to by the senior’s healthcare provider ASAP to assess the cause. 

Sleeping issues 

Sleeping issues can vary from insomnia (inability to sleep or stay asleep) to sleeping too much. Sleeping issues are a common senior complaint. Not surprisingly, low daily activity levels and lack of social engagement are huge contributors. The body needs to expend energy in order to sleep well.  

Visit Insomnia & Seniors by The Sleep Foundation to learn more. 

Eating less (or more) than usual 

Signs of unusual weight loss or weight gain is always a sign that seniors may need more support. It can also be a sign of depression or anxiety. A combination of skipped meals, diminished appetite, or binging on junk foods eventually takes its toll, setting the stage for malnourishment. 

Wishing to die or suicide attempts 

Seniors who live alone and become depressed are more prone to suicidal thoughts or to feel their life is no longer worth living. They may make comments along the lines of, “I wish I would die,” “I’m ready to die,” or thoughts along those lines. Take comments like these very seriously. They are a cry for help and indicate that a shift must be made to increase your loved one’s quality of life. 

We Are Here to Provide Support 

Have you considered enlisting the help of an in-home caregiving agency? Senior caregivers can pop in as little or as often as you wish. Depending on the needs of your loved one, we can provide companionship, help with grocery shopping and meals, and we can also transport them to their favorite activities, meetings, or meals with friends.  

Contact HomeAide Home Care to learn more about how our senior care services can prevent or eliminate senior depression. (510) 247-1200. 

Core Exercises For Seniors Stability & Health

core exercises for seniors stability health

Those of us who work in homecare know firsthand what a difference regular physical activity (aka “exercise”) makes in the lives of our clients. The clients who move their bodies more on a daily basis enjoy better moods, remain more engaged with the world around them, are less likely to fall, and sleep better at night. Who doesn’t want that? 

Plus, exercise is necessary to manage existing health conditions and weight goals. 

Add Core Exercises To The Senior Movement Routine 

We recently posted a blog about Safe Summertime Exercises that help seniors get the daily movement they need, even when it’s hot outside. Today, we want to focus on exercises that strengthen the core muscles. 

Core strengthening exercises have a range of benefits. In addition to providing cardio and strength building, core muscles support healthy digestion, strengthen the pelvic floor -reducing or eliminating incontinence, improve balance, and make it easier for seniors to do daily tasks that keep them feeling productive

What Are Core Muscles & What Do They Do? 

Many people equate “core muscles” with “abdominals.” While your abdominal (stomach) muscles are part of the core group, the term refers to a much wider and more complex group of muscles. In addition to abdominal muscles, the core group includes all of the muscles that support and stabilize the spine and the muscles that make up the pelvic floor.  

In other words, it’s a whole lotta different muscles, and they all do essential jobs. When these muscles get weak, things go amock, such as poor posture, less overall strength, pain in the back, shoulders, and neck, and lack of balance. Flacid core muscles also put seniors at risk for incontinence (or make existing incontinence worse) and prevent efficient digestion and waste elimination. 

We feel core exercises for seniors are a must! However, as with any new activity, always speak to your loved one’s physician before adding or changing their exercise routine. 

5 Examples Of Core Exercises 

Here are five examples of core exercises you can do with seniors on a daily or weekly basis. Make any or all of these a regular part of the exercise rotation. 

Bridge pose 

Anyone can do a bridge pose because the beginning posture requires lying flat on your back on the ground (using a yoga mat, sleeping pad, or folded blanket provides extra cushion). Once you are relaxed, bend the knees with the feet still flat on the floor about hip-width apart. Straighten your arms and lay palms flat on the ground. 

Then, slowly lift the hips up and off the ground, focusing on the lower back and stomach muscles, if possible, rather than using the thighs. Make sure the thighs remain parallel (no angling of the bend knees to either side) and hold the hips as high and you comfortably can for a few seconds. Then lower your bum back to the ground.  

Click Here to see what it looks like. Note that the woman in that post has her hands clasped underneath her. That is an advanced version. You can work towards that but, to start, just keep your hands along your sides for better stability, comfort, and balance. 

For some seniors, this is immediately available, and the hips will get a good way off the ground. For others, an inch or two may be all they can do. That’s just fine. Over time, the core will get increasingly stronger, and those hips will rise higher and higher. 

Senior yoga (or pilates) classes 

The bridge pose is a well-known yoga pose, so it makes sense that we segue into #2: Take a Senior Yoga (or Pilates) class. As with the bridge pose described above, a good senior yoga class meets you where you’re at. Trained instructors provide all types of supports and modifications so that even chair-bound, bed-bound, or home-bound adults can participate.  

Read our post, The Benefits of Yoga for Seniors, to learn more about it. There, we share examples as well as video links to get you started. 

Standing or sitting side bends 

This one feels great any time of the morning, afternoon, or evening. Standing and sitting side bends help to get rid of the tension from too much sedentary or screen time and help seniors feel more alert and refreshed since it immediately increases circulation.  

Whether you opt to do the bends standing, seated, or both ways, always hold the tummy in a bit and keep the core muscles activated while bending and straightening for best results. Also, don’t forget to breathe! 

  • Standing: Stand with knees straight (but not locked) and with feet hip-width apart. Raise the arms overhead and clasp hands with fingers interlaced. Make sure the shoulders are lowered, and the chin is parallel to the ground. Slowly and gently bend to the side while keeping the spine facing forwards (bend but don’t twist). Go as far as it is comfortable and hold the stretch for a moment if it feels good to do so. Then slowly raise back to the center position.  
  • Switch the interlace of the fingers (so the other thumb is on top) for an extra brain boost, and then slowly repeat the side bend to the opposite side. Try to do at least five of these repetitions to start, then add more as you like until you reach 10 cycles. 
  • Sitting. Sit cross-legged if you can. If not, feel free to place pillows on each side of your knees so they’re supported or sit with your legs straight out in front of you. This exercise can also be done in a chair, preferably one without arms (just make sure to provide fall protection if needed). Extend the arms up and clasp hands together with interlaced fingers, just as you would if you were standing, and do the bends as written above. 

Enroll in a water exercise class 

Like yoga, water exercises constantly make the Top 3 list of best senior exercises. The water is very supportive of aching joints or muscles that are out of shape. Also, it provides resistance for muscle strengthening and buoyancy to prevent falls or injuries. Finally, the continual process of remaining afloat and upright in the water constantly utilizes contractions in core muscles. 

So, even if a particular exercise isn’t specific to core muscles, your movements to perform any exercise in the water also support core tone and strength. If you already head to the pool or an exercise class regularly, or you have a hot tub, pool, or jacuzzi at home, begin adding some of these Swim Workouts That Target Your Belly and focus on the core. 

Do a senior core workout at home 

Just as there are videos available for yoga, exercise, dancercise, pilates, and everything else under the sun, high-quality exercise videos focus on senior-friendly core routines that take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes.  

Check out: 

Wish your senior loved one had a companion to make daily activities and exercises more fun? Consider hiring a companion through a licensed senior care agency. Contact us at HomeAide Home Care to learn more about how we can support and care for your favorite senior. 

Hello world! We’ve Got a Blog!

Home Care BlogWelcome to the brand new blog of HomeAide Home Care! Thanks for taking a look!

Our goal here is to create a channel for our clients and friends to get closer to us as a company, to understand more about us, and share with everyone lessons learned and helpful information we’ve collected over the years as one of the foremost independent home care services in the East Bay.

Please feel free to comment on any of the stories we post, we’d love to hear from you!

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