While it is true that we will all grow older and experience the unique stressors and issues that come with ageing, it is not common for everyone to experience depression as they become elderly. Dealing with your elderly parent’s depression should be a priority, as a mental health problem left unchecked can become a severe issue.
If you are looking at a mental health clinic for your elderly parent, you must work with them and help them too. Depression can lead to a decreased quality of life for your parent, causing them to disengage from activities, such as spending time with their friends and family and eating.
Disengaging from important activities such as eating and exercising is serious. It should be cause for alarm, but you can prevent this behaviour early on if you speak about any issues and ask for help from a mental health facility. Below we discuss how you can effectively help your elderly parent with depression.
It is natural to feel anxious or worried about the mental health of your loved one, but it is important that you stay calm and collected when speaking to them about their issues. Being overly anxious or even angry will make the situation worse and could cause your parent to put up a barrier and stop speaking about their problems altogether.
When speaking to them or interacting with them, make it clear that you are calm and are there to be compassionate and open with them. Try not to judge them too much as they tell you their problems. As we age, our mindsets shift, and we are concerned or depressed by different issues than when we were younger. Keeping calm and genuinely listening will help your parent to feel more confident and encourage them to open up about their problems.
Maintain A Support System
A significant factor of depression and other mental health issues can be loneliness. Providing your elderly parent or parents with as much attention and support as possible can be extremely valuable to them, helping to relieve the feeling of loneliness and abandonment. You can work with your parent to create and maintain a support system that works for everyone.
You could arrange for your parent to spend time in the afternoon with your children or take them for lunches and dinners twice a week. Part of this support system could include visits to a mental health facility that provides in- and outpatient care. The practitioners at these mental health clinics are professionally trained to deal with the issues that elderly patients face and can provide valuable insight and help.
Make Meal Preparation Easier
Assisting with meal preparation might sound like a simple act, but when an older person is depressed, they often stop eating or eat very small and unhealthy meals. Not eating can cause fatigue, extreme weight-loss, and increased mood swings. You can help your parent or parents immensely by making their meal preparation easier and healthier.
Some meals that are easy to for both of you to prepare include soups with nutrient-rich vegetables, egg dishes that can be reheated, and pre-cut smoothies that can simply be prepared in a smoothie maker. Be sure to make enough meals for at least three to five days that will not perish in the fridge. Your parent will appreciate having prepared meals to eat, helping to improve their mood and their overall health.
Talk Openly With Them
Having an open dialogue with your parents will help them to feel more comfortable and encourage them to tell you how they are feeling and what they are experiencing. If they are attending therapy at a mental health facility, they will likely be more willing to speak to you as well. However, be sure not to push your parent, as this could come across as aggressive.
As well as listening to them and providing guidance or advice, you should let your parent know how you are dealing with the situation yourself. Your parents still consider your feelings and would appreciate knowing how you are handling the situation. Remember to keep all conversations as positive as you can, without coming across as false. Mental health issues and depression should be spoken about openly rather than ignored.
Keeping calm, maintaining a support system, and speaking openly about the issues can help your parent to feel supported and more in control of their emotions. If you think that your elderly parent or parents need the help of a mental health clinic or professional, please do not hesitate to contact Life Path Health to find out how we can help your family.