Depression is a psychological condition that can cause both emotional and physical pain. An individual with depression may experience a variety of symptoms that range from a loss of appetite to restlessness, both of which affect the immune system and cause fatigue.
If you plan to transition your loved one into a senior community, keep in mind that a change in lifestyle may enhance, diminish, or alleviate their depression. The following signs indicate that your family member may suffer from depression.
Loss of Appetite or Restlessness
In addition to high stress, depression may cause restlessness and/or a loss of appetite. The easiest way to find out if your loved one has trouble eating or sleeping is to ask. Figure out when they last slept through the night or if they have eaten recently.
Many relatives overlook these two symptoms of depression without knowing that they can have an impact on the effectiveness of medication, weaken the immune system, diminish cognitive abilities, and/or fatigue the body.
To encourage a loved one experiencing a loss of appetite to eat, you can plan social outings. Take them to their favorite local restaurants. If you make eating a social event instead of a chore, eating will come more naturally. Similarly, a loved one experiencing sleep disturbances will have an easier time resting after a full day of activity and a good meal.
Loneliness contributes heavily to depression. When you transition a loved one to a senior living community, pay attention to how their depression affects their living experience. Some people may not be ready to live on their own while others only need a bit of encouragement and support.
According to an article in the US National Library of Medicine, “Loneliness may lead to serious health-related consequences. It is one of the three main factors leading to depression, and an important cause of suicide and suicide attempts. [Loneliness is] related to poor psychological adjustment, dissatisfaction with family and social relationships.”
Senior living communities have many opportunities for social interaction. Your loved one can mingle with their new friends in the clubhouse, go for walks around the park with their neighbors, or chat with the on-site staff to express their emotions and frustrations.
A quality senior living community will encourage these interactions between residents through social activities. Inquire with your community to see their calendar of events.
Suicidal ideation—more commonly known as “suicidal thoughts”—involves the planning or communicating of suicide and is one of the most volatile symptoms of severe depression. Seniors experience suicidal ideation for a variety of reasons, but no matter the reason, you must listen and take action if it happens. Left unchecked, suicidal thoughts can cause depression, restlessness, loss of appetite, or irritability.
According to MedicineNet, those aged 80 to 84 are twice as likely than younger people to commit suicide. For individuals 65-years-old and older, depression is a major health problem.
If your loved one has suicidal thoughts, reach out to a physician immediately or call 1-(800)-273-8255 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. In some cases, medication can cause suicidal ideation, so a discussion with your physician may help to determine the source. For severe instances, patients may require hospitalization to prevent them from harming themselves or others.
Living with Depression
Depression comes in a variety of forms with varying levels of severity. If you recognize these symptoms beforehand, reach out to your loved one in their time of need. Many Assisted Living communities have specially trained nurses and staff who deal with these issues on a daily basis. Some communities even offer daily behavior tracking and closely monitor these and other potential symptoms of depression. If you need help, contact a Senior Living Advisor to learn more about your options.