Depression in Retirement: Monitoring Mental Health in Our Seniors

Depression is Not a Normal Part of Aging

Depression is a serious, but treatable, condition that affects millions of Americans of all ages. According to the CDC, “seniors are often misdiagnosed and undertreated because healthcare providers, family and friends may mistake their symptoms of depression as just a natural reaction to illness or life changes that occur with aging.”[1] Seniors themselves often share this belief and do not seek help, but depression is not a normal part of aging, and that assumption can be very dangerous.

It is well-documented that “depression in the elderly…is associated with an increased risk of cardiac diseases and an increased risk of death from illness.”[2] Not only that, but for seniors who are already suffering from physical ailments, untreated depression can actually make it more difficult, or sometimes impossible, to rehabilitate.

Here at Bonaventure Senior Living, part of the way we achieve Retirement Perfected™ is by addressing both the physical and mental health of our Residents. We understand that depression is a real condition, like diabetes or hypertension, which is very treatable and has nothing to do with weakness, sadness or any other negative connotations. We make it a priority to remove the stigma and recognize depression should symptoms become evident.

Common Signs and Symptoms of Depression

Depression is more than just “feeling down” or experiencing the emotions that come with loss or change. There can be a number of factors, coupled with feelings of prolonged sadness and/or anxiety.

The following are some of the most common indicators:

  • Sadness or a feeling of emptiness, guilt or helplessness.
  • Pessimism or increased negativity.
  • Isolation and loss of social support.
  • Changes in sleep patterns: insomnia or even excessive sleeping.
  • Changes in appetite: refusing meals or even overeating by using food as “comfort.”
  • Loss of interest in activities he or she previously enjoyed and participated in.
  • Having difficulty focusing or concentrating.

If you recognized these symptoms in yourself or a loved one, we would encourage you to see a physician. Again, depression is a real and treatable condition that should not be ignored. Medications are not the only way to address depression in seniors, though, and that’s where the benefits of living at a Bonaventure Senior Living Community shine through.

Combatting Depression

Here at Bonaventure, Retirement Perfected™ includes a variety of ways to boost moods and help combat depression as well.

Some of our favorite ways are listed below:

  • Encouraging socialization and interaction with fellow Residents and Staff.
  • Daily exercise activities, which are scheduled, structured and encouraged for all Residents to attend.
  • Each community has sixteen daily activities scheduled. The more engaged a Resident is, the more difficult it becomes to feel isolated and depressed.
  • Getting outside into nature. Fresh air and a bit of sunshine works wonders for the soul.
  • A change of scenery can be helpful: encouraging a Resident to take her tea in the café rather than in her room.

These are just a few ways we can help confront depression in our residents, and we all work together as a team to keep our Residents healthy, happy and active.

Pam Gray, COO of Bonaventure Senior Living

 

[1] “Depression is Not a Normal Part of Growing Older.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/aging/mentalhealth/depression.htm. 2017.

[2] “Depression in the Elderly.” WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/depression-elderly#1. 2017.

Filed in Health Services Retirement Lifestyle Senior Health