Elderly Parent Care: Helping To Reduce Depression Symptoms

14 May 2015
 Categories: , Articles

Clinical depression is quite common amongst elderly adults, with over six million people feeling the effects of the disease.  If you take care of an elderly parent in your home, then you may see some signs of depression.  Insomnia, lack of appetite, irritability, loss of energy, weight loss, and a generally sullen mood are all signs to look for, and hiring a home health aide can help your parent with loneliness issues that may be causing some of the symptoms.  Even if you hire a home health aide, you should do what you can to help your loved one.  Read through some of the tips below to find out what kinds of things can help with elderly depression.

Increase Sun Exposure

Your elderly parent may feel depressed due to a decreased sense of independence or they may be upset over the loss of friends, a spouse, or other family members.  Elderly individuals also may have lower levels of serotonin in the body.  Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for balancing the emotions and maintaining a consistent mood.  Without the right levels of serotonin in the body, depression symptoms start to appear.  You can help your loved one to combat these symptoms by helping them naturally boost the serotonin that is released by the body.  Exposure to the sun can help with this.

Sunlight Exposure Tips

Make sure to open up the drapes, curtains, or shades in your home every morning.  This will help to allow natural sunlight into the home.  If your elderly parent likes privacy, then think about opening the drapes on the east side of the house in the morning and early afternoon.  As the sun shifts to the west, open shades on the west side of the house.  If you are not home during the day, then ask the home health aide to do this for you.

Also, make sure that short outside trips are scheduled into your parent's daily routine.  Low levels of vitamin D are linked to depression, and the easiest way to increase the vitamin is to help the body make it by absorbing direct sunlight through the skin.  A quick 10 or 15 minutes in the sun each day can be incredibly helpful.

Encourage Exercise and Activity

Exercise is another good way to help elderly people maintain an elevated mood.  Exercise and activities that increase the heart rate prompt the body to release endorphins.  Endorphins promote a feeling of well-being and they can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression symptoms.  Your elderly parent may not be as mobile as they used to be, and certain types of exercises can cause muscle strains and other injuries.  This means that you should probably schedule a 30 to 60 minute walk outside on a flat sidewalk or an area of the yard.

Preparing for Outdoor Adventures

To help reduce injuries, consider providing your parent with a walking cane.  Aluminum canes are a great choice, because they are both lightweight and strong.  Look for a cane with a flat handle to help with grip, and also make sure that the rubber tip is wide and thick to provide good ground support.

If your parent has more substantial mobility problems, then offer a rollator device instead of a cane.  Rollators are walkers with wheels that can be used both inside and outside the home.  If the rollator will be used on grassy patches of ground or dirt paths, then make sure it has rubber wheels with deep grooves that can glide over uneven terrain.

Once you have prepared your parent for the outdoor exercise excursions, provide them with a quick meal or snack, or ask the home health aide to do this.  Carbohydrate and protein-rich foods are a good choice to boost energy levels.  Think about serving a peanut butter sandwich or make some eggs and toast.  A few crackers and some almonds can provide good nutrition too.  Make sure to grab a water bottle for your parent as well, so they do not become dehydrated. For more ideas about what you can do to help your loved one, ask specialists at sites like http://www.devotedguardians.com.