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Health & Wellness

Depression Among Seniors: Causes and Coping Strategies

As we age, there are plenty of new experiences to enjoy, but that comes with many changes that can affect our mental well-being. According to the CDC, seniors are at increased risk for depression. This is often associated with isolation, as loneliness and depression are often linked, and it’s important for seniors to seek support when they notice symptoms and signs.

Read on to learn about the connections between depression and overall health, common depression symptoms, and ways to cope with depression and isolation.

Connections Between Depression and Health

Depression is a mood disorder which is typically characterized by consistent feelings of sadness, apathy, or anxiety for longer than two weeks. This doesn’t just impact your mood; it also changes the way you think and act. This disorder is often connected to your health and living conditions. It’s estimated that depression is significantly more common for seniors who are hospitalized or require home health care, which also increases feelings of isolation and loneliness. These struggles can significantly impact your quality of life.

Common Depression Symptoms for Seniors

Depression can go unnoticed if it’s not properly acknowledged or addressed. It’s important to remember that depression doesn’t just impact your emotions, and there are many other common symptoms that you may experience. These include:

  • Feelings of hopelessness, guilt, or emptiness
  • Negative self-image
  • Irritability or frustration
  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Trouble sitting still, concentrating, or focusing
  • Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Changes to your eating habits, causing serious weight gain or loss
  • Trouble sleeping or insomnia
  • Increased memory loss
  • Decreased reaction time, which may increase the risk of falls or accidents

Ways for Seniors To Cope With Depression

There are many ways to cope with and overcome depression. It’s important to reach out to loved ones or medical professionals if depression or isolation are negatively impacting your quality of life. If you need immediate help, contact the National Alliance on Mental Health’s HelpLine to talk to a volunteer.   

Take Time to Improve Emotional Wellness

When life gets busy, it can be difficult to take a step back and take time to reflect on our emotional wellness. However, fostering a positive mental outlook can have a big impact on our mental well-being. There are many ways to incorporate this into your day. Start by taking a moment to instill purpose into your routinewhat do you want to accomplish or engage with today? Next, take some time to keep your mind sharp by boosting your brain health, which can distract you from overthinking in order to stay productive and focused. Finally, try out mindfulness and meditation exercises, which set aside time to relax, review, and move forward with a positive mindset.

Spend Time in the Sun and Go Outdoors

When you’re feeling isolated, it can be helpful to step outside, experience nature, and engage with the world around you. Planned activities give you something to look forward to, so prepare a day trip with a group of friends. Going outdoors and being in the sun has many benefits, as sunshine has been found to be beneficial for those suffering with depression. Even 15 to 20 minutes outside can help. Try drinking your morning coffee on the porch, taking short walks, or eating a picnic lunch.

Improve Sleeping Habits

Our sleeping habits can have a big impact on our mental well-being. If you’re experiencing sleep issues, it’s important to address them and look for solutions. Do you have a consistent sleep schedule? Often, restlessness and insomnia are related to an irregular circadian rhythm. You can improve this by making a habit of falling asleep and waking up at the same time every day.

If you’re still looking for ways to improve your sleep, consider your habits and environment. Are you drinking caffeine later in the day or taking afternoon naps? Is there light in your room at night or is your bed uncomfortable? Many of these factors can keep you from sleeping soundly.

Physical Activity and Physical Wellness

Incorporating exercise into your day can combat depression. Even small amounts of physical activity can be beneficial, as it gets endorphins flowing, which improves your mood. Exercise is also a great way to combat loneliness, as there are many opportunities to connect with others through physical activity. Try attending classes at a local rec center, join a walking group, or explore outdoor yoga. By strengthening your physical wellness, you improve your mental wellness as well. Be sure to speak to a medical professional before beginning any new fitness routine. 

Finding Community to Combat Isolation

Depression can cause us to feel forgotten and even unloved, but it’s important to remember that there are people out there who care about you and are eager to help. Your friends, spouse, children, grandchildren, neighbors, and more can all help you feel more connected to the people and the world around you. If you’re struggling with depression, then it’s important to break out of isolation and find a supportive community. Find clubs or hobby groups, explore local classes or workshops, look for opportunities to volunteer, or learn more about community living.

Find a Supportive Community at The Stayton 

If you’re looking for a supportive community, then consider The Stayton in Fort Worth, Texas. Our team is committed to helping you improve your physical and mental wellness, and we want to connect you with other like-minded individuals that could become lifelong friends. If you or a loved one are looking to connect in a luxurious community with like-minded peers, contact us today to schedule a tour and learn more.

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