Aging is a normal part of living and affects everyone physically, socially and psychologically. Many changes occur not only in outward appearances but also within the body systems. There are also changes in cognitive reasoning, personality, and senses. Basic needs remain the same but the challenge to fulfill them increases, as the aging person faces changes in function, social interactions, life situations and financial security. These factors can make the senior susceptible to depression. People’s reactions and coping abilities vary considerably from individual to individual. By understanding the aging process and the challenges it presents, caregivers can help their senior clients come to terms with the inevitable and help them attain and maintain their optimum functioning levels.
Caregivers can support depressed individuals by:
- Becoming familiar with the client’s situation.
- Finding out if support systems exist within the family or the community.
- Watching for the “red alert” indicators of depression (e.g. sadness, withdrawn, lethargic, neglected hygiene and personal appearance).
- Taking any and all comments about death or suicide seriously.
- Supporting the client in finding help.
- Listening to the client with a non judgmental and non critical ear.
- Being supportive and understanding.
- Not assuming any guilt over the client’s condition.
- Contacting the Care Manager who is responsible for taking action for depression.