Unfortunately, depression, anxiety, and despair are experienced by us all. Unfortunately, it’s the elderly that are equally as high risk as young and middle-aged people but they are ignored, dismissed, and often forgotten about.
Out of sight is out of mind and we in the west have a different approach to care for our elderly family members. Unlike China and other eastern countries where it is a mark of respect for our elders to keep them at home and care for them ourselves many elderly in the west are neglected in their homes, nursing homes, and care facilities.
I am privileged to work with many elderly people with mental health and memory problems through their children who seek me out to assist in care for them. Unfortunately, mental health is a growing epidemic, and loneliness and sadness really can kill and make us ill regardless of age.
I think the reason the elderly are at such a high risk of depression is — lack of purpose. For years and years, they build their lives around serving others, having roles and responsibilities with their family, and work — in and out of the house. This provides structure and routine in their lives and provides meaning and helps self-esteem.
As the elderly retire and life moves beyond these responsibilities they are at higher risk than ever of depression, anxiety, loneliness, and feeling alone and unappreciated.
The research confirms we must stop ignoring the elderly and we must make a point of building contact and connection to prevent mental health and therefore physical decline in cognitive abilities.
https://www.nimh.nih.gov/funding/clinical-research/practical/stard/index.shtml — This study gives evidence we already know. Antidepressants are NOT the solution!
Medicating our older people only puts a bandaid on the problems and places load on the liver and kidneys from ongoing pharmaceutical use which causes complications and deterioration of their health overall. Instead, we should be practicing KINDNESS, CONNECTION, and APPRECIATION.
Including our older family and friends in our lives with phone calls, video chats, sending them text messages and care packages is EASY and it doesn’t take a lot of time and money.
Who can you call or send a message to reminding them that you care and that they are important to you?