Depression is a serious mood disorder, it isn’t simply having an off day or feeling a little sad about something. Depression will affect your parent’s ability to find joy and contentment.
Changes in the brain can affect mood and lead to depression for some people. Yet, others might experience depression after a major life event, like a scary medical diagnosis or the death of a loved one. If your parent is under a lot of stress, such as financial issues, or is unable to take care of herself anymore, it may cause depression. And there are many who become depressed for no clear reason.
While there may be nothing you can do to prevent depression in your aging parent, there are some risk factors that you can affect before they become overwhelming for your parent and lead to depression. Focusing on the risk factors that you and your parent have control over can make it so they don’t compound with risk factors she can’t control.
Let’s look at some risk factors that help your aging parent manage before depression develops. Remember, these factors are related to the risk of depression, but do not necessarily cause depression:
Social isolation and loneliness.
As your parent ages, she likely lost many friends and even family due to death and lifestyle changes. Many older people have a hard time making new connections, so the isolation just compounds. And while you are helping by caring for your elderly parent, you can’t be her sole companion. Hiring an in-home care provider to visit her home routinely can help her feel less isolated. A visit from an in-home care provider can include a walk around the block, a cup of coffee together, or simply sitting on the porch and sharing stories.
Addiction and/or alcoholism.
If your parent battles addiction, help her get into a program to help her quit her addiction. This will help her overcome the depression that often comes alongside addiction. She will also break that endless circle of imbibing in her addictive behavior and the guilt that comes with that addiction.
Stress can come in many forms. So if your parent tells you that she’s stressed, try to find the reason for the stress. If it’s financial issues, get her a financial consultant. They can help her manage her bills, which might provide some relief. If she’s stressed because she can no longer manage the chores of the home, hire an in-home care provider. They will help with household chores like laundry, cleaning, or even yardwork.
You’ve found your parent has sleeping issues. Try doing some research on natural and medical ways to help her get a better night’s sleep. That might hold off the depression that often comes to those who never get restorative rest.
While working on these risk factors may help your parent not be overcome with depression, she still might develop it, and if she does, professional help should be sought.