Senior depression is a common problem among older adults, especially those living with Alzheimer's disease. It can be frustrating for seniors to come to terms with the changes in their body, and it may be difficult for them to readjust to their environment if they have recently moved to a senior living community. However, you and your loved one do not have to live without hope. Below are four insights from the Alzheimer’s Association that can help your loved one improve their mental health and be more positive.
Recognize the Symptoms
Before you can help, you need to know how to identify the problem. It can be difficult to tell the difference between depression and Alzheimer’s, since many symptoms – such as apathy, social withdrawal, and difficulty concentrating – are common to both. It’s important to keep in mind that your loved one may also struggle to communicate their feelings due to their disease. However, there are some differences in how people with Alzheimer’s experience depression that may help you identify it. Notably, depressive episodes may be less severe and may come and go frequently. If you notice changes in your loved one’s demeanor, connect with their primary doctor so proper diagnosis and treatment can begin.
Acknowledge Their Pain
If your loved one is communicating with you about their sadness, listen to them. Let them talk. Don’t tell them to “cheer up.” This is seldom helpful. Instead, acknowledge their feelings while expressing your love for them and your best wishes that they start feeling better. Let them know you care, and that you are there for them when they need.
Schedule Routine Fun
Start thinking about what makes them happy. What do they like to do for fun? Is it something you can do together? If so, make it part of your routine – that could be as simple as a weekly game of Scrabble or working together toward a bigger project. It can be a big boost in their mood to have a goal in mind, especially if they are collaborating with someone they love.
Exercise and a healthy diet are always important. Support your loved one in sticking to a regular exercise schedule that’s within their abilities and ensuring that they have the right “fuel” to function at full capacity.
For more tips on supporting your aging loved one, visit the Brightwater Senior Living blog.