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What To Do When Your Elderly Parent Is Hurting
By Rosetta Jenson
Exclusively for DrMaraKarpel.com
If your elderly parent is hurting emotionally, it might be a sign that they are experiencing mental health issues. Data from the CDC reports that about 5% of older adults in America have depression. The percentage rises to about 13.5% among adults that require home healthcare. Symptoms of depression include feelings of guilt, worthlessness, hopelessness, and irritability. It may lead to fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and poor sleep quality.
As we explained in a blog post on ‘Dispelling Anxiety & Anger,’ stress from the various troubles caused by the pandemic has made a significant contribution to collective mental health decline. Depression can also be rooted in physical health issues, which older adults are more vulnerable to. To manage mental health issues, older adults need to find ways to mitigate the stress they experience. The following strategies can help you promote your elderly parent’s emotional and mental health.
Get Professional Help
If you don’t live with your parent, consider hiring an in-home caregiver. Isolation only worsens depression, so it can help to hire someone that can give your parent solid companionship. Caregivers can also help your parent with tasks they might find difficult, such as cooking and cleaning.
They can also help your parents with their medical needs if they have a nursing qualification or medical background. Many accredited nurses go on to specialize in senior care. If you need a career who is qualified to deal with physical and mental ailments you can speak to a healthcare administrator. Experienced healthcare administrators often work in community roles, whether it is at a hospital, clinic, or non-profit and will be able to give you advice on how to hire the right professional help. Seeking out professional help will make your parents’ lives much more comfortable.
Encourage Social Activities
Another way to prevent social isolation is to encourage your parent to participate in social activities. Volunteer and social activities will give your parent the opportunity to have meaningful social interactions. And by staying socially active, they can also challenge their mind, thus lessening their risk of developing cognitive diseases like dementia.
Senior centers will usually host activities and events for older adults. However, social activities don’t need to be senior-focused. You can also encourage your parents to join classes for people of all ages. There, they can converse with and learn from individuals from younger age groups. Many classes also offer discounts for senior citizens.
Get Them To Exercise
One of the most effective ways to mitigate the risk of depression and anxiety is to stay physically active. Exercise promotes the production of happy hormones like serotonin and dopamine. It can also regulate the production of the stress hormone cortisol. Exercise also reduces a person’s risk of developing severe health conditions, thus removing one of the biggest stressors seniors face.
Seniors that are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan will usually have access to SilverSneakers, which is a fitness program created for older adults. SilverSneakers offers live fitness classes and instructional videos that can teach older adults to stay fit while taking the limits of their bodies into account, thus reducing the risk of injury.
Promote Healthy Eating
People that are depressed are more likely to have unhealthy diets. A common symptom of depression is a loss of appetite, which can then lead to insufficient nutrition. On the reverse end, many individuals with depression also experience an increased appetite, which leads to weight gain. There is also strong evidence that unhealthy diets lead to mental health issues, which can make it a vicious cycle. By promoting healthy eating, you can promote good mental health.
Nutrients known to decrease the risk of depression include vitamin C (found in broccoli, oranges, potatoes, strawberries, and tomatoes), vitamin E (found in wheat germ, nuts, and seeds), and beta-carotene (found in carrots, pumpkin, and spinach). Whole grains, leafy greens, and healthy proteins are also noted to help.
If your parent is hurting emotionally, it’s important to ensure that their mental health situation doesn’t worsen. To protect their mental and emotional health, promote social interaction, exercise, and healthy eating. Hiring an at-home caregiver can also help.